Circa 1980, Kenny O’Neal was working with the Urban League to develop a youth football team known as the Running Rebels. O’Neal was building the program to provide opportunities for North Omaha youth and he recognized the team needed a boost.
Kenny approached Phil Morrison, owner of Phil’s Foodway which was located at 24thand Fort St. at the time, asking if Phil would be interested in supporting the team. That was the beginning of what has become a partnership lasting 40 years.
Phil’s Foodway has also grown over the years. The grocery store moved to its current location at 30th& Ames St., and is known today as Phil’s Cash Saver. Phil’s has supported the youth basketball program, providing team uniforms, travel expenses, and other needs.
“The commmunity benefits from this program” said Phil Morrison. “I’ve seen the impact Unity Stars has had on kids over the years and it’s the reason I continue to support the program.”
Coach O’Neal has been fortunate to have the support of many coaches over the years, teaching and mentoring thousands of kids that have participated in the Unity Stars program. Many kids have gone to see successful careers in sports including Bernard Jackson, Andre Woolrich, Eric Strickland, Curtis Marshall, Terrance Badger and others. But the youth aren’t just learning to be good athletes. The program is teaching respect, responsibility, and accountability. All participants are held to strict academic accountability standards and the club strives to instill the importance of integrity, good morals, values and good character traits.
The program provides basketball teams for youth grades 4-8, and you can learn more about Unity Stars HERE.