“Los Jets,” a six-part television documentary series about the Siler City, N.C.-based Jordan-Matthews High School soccer team, makes its television debut at 10 p.m. EDT on NUVOtv on July 16. The series is the outgrowth of the 2006 book “A Home on the Field: How One Championship Team Inspires Hope for the Revival of Small Town America” by Paul Cuadros, a journalism professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and coach of the Jets team.
The film premiere of “Los Jets” was held at the FedEx Global Education Center June 27. More than 300 guests attended, including UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol L. Folt.
“Attending the screening allowed me to feel the power of the Los Jets experience,’’ Folt said. “Witnessing this story told through the eyes of students and Paul Cuadros shows the transformative power of education. I am proud of Paul and the work he has done in serving this important community and our state.”
The documentary follows Cuadros and the players, all sons of Latino immigrants, through their 2013 fall soccer season. As much as the documentary looks at soccer, it also explores Cuadros’ life alongside the successes and struggles the youth and their families face as immigrants.
“It runs the gambit of immigrant life,” Cuadros said. “It gets into their lives. Several of the players came into the U.S. as unaccompanied minors seeking to reunite with their families here. You will learn and feel their experiences up close and see how these kids struggle and integrate into our society and the obstacles they face.”
The screening in June was followed by a panel discussion moderated by Rachel Raney, executive director of the Durham-based Southern Documentary Fund. Mark Landsman, director and producer; Lynda Lopez, co-executive producer; Lynette Ramirez, senior vice president of programming and development for NUVOtv; and four of the youth on the soccer team, including Martin Carrillo, Daniel Estrada, Jonathan Lopez and Darwin Ramirez, also participated.
In addition to playing on the soccer team, the youth participate in the UNC Scholars Latino Initiative, which provides college prep guidance and mentorship for Latino youth in North Carolina. The TV series is expected to reveal inspiring details about their successes in college acceptances.
Cuadros is an associate professor who started teaching in UNC’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication in 2007. As an investigative journalist who wrote about race and poverty in the United States, Cuadros won a fellowship in 1999 to report on the emerging Latino communities in rural poultry-processing towns in the South. He moved to Chatham County, North Carolina, to focus on the growing Latino community in Siler City. The city’s population has grown from about 2 percent Latino to about 50 percent Latino in the past two decades.
By Katie Bowler Young, UNC Global, and Natalie Vizuete, University Relations.
Published July 14, 2014.