Los Jets, a six-part docuseries on a Siler City, North Carolina soccer team comprised primarily of Latino high school teenage boys, premieres on Wednesday, July 16 at 10 p.m. ET on NUVOtv. The series, which is co-executive produced by Jennifer Lopez and her sister, Lynda, under the Nuyorican Productions banner, brings to TV an often touching picture of what it is like for these teenagers to live in America, the importance that soccer has to them and the huge influence that the team’s founding coach, Paul Cuadros, has on their young lives. Below is a video trailer for Los Jets.
Though Siler City, North Carolina, home of Los Jets, is a rural community of 5,000. It is, relatively speaking, ground zero when talk turns to the need for immigration reform. Within the past 15 years, the small town’s Latino population has surged from lees than two percent to more than 55 percent.
The series, filmed last fall, follows the top-ranked Jordan-Matthews High School Jets, or Los Jets, as they compete against other high school teams and battle their way towards the goal of being in the North Carolina State Championships. All of the members of Los Jets are the sons of Latino immigrants who settled in the area searching for a better life for themselves and their families.
Besides Los Jets being a series where viewers get to see a sports team find the faith and strength within themselves to struggle against the odds and win, people who tune in will also get to see intimate portrayals of the lives of the teenage boys off of the playing field. The episodes will give viewers a candid peek into the family lives of the team members and how they interact with friends and make relationships that will last for a lifetime.
Many of the boys that make up Los Jets were brought to America when they were very young. As such, they are undocumented. They consider themselves to be American, but they lack citizenship papers. Almost all of the boys come from families in which one or more of their relatives is undocumented, adding to the uncertainty and normal everyday problems that most teenagers face at one time or another.
Nearly 13 years ago, Coach Paul Cuadros took a big risk and spoke up to the high school administration and the community of Siler City to demand the creation of a high school soccer team. In 2004, Los Jets became State Champions. Coach Cuardros has seen his team have its ups and downs, with Los Jets finishing in third place in 2013. All that separated them from winning the championship was just one goal. This season, Coach Cuardros believes that Los Jets can go all the way. If they can win it all, the team will also be carrying the hopes and dreams of Siler City, North Carolina, along with them.
Though Coach Cuadros has only taken Los Jets to win the North Carolina State Championship 1A title once, in 2004, he has coached past Los Jets teams to five Conference Championships as well as an impressive 12 consecutive playoff appearances. This year, he and Los Jets are determined to continue their winning legacy and win the North Carolina State Championship 1A title for a second time.
The series is loosely based on a 2006 book written about the winning 2004 season when Coach Cuadros and Los Jets became State Champions. The docuseries Los Jets, though, is about the present-day soccer team and it is created and directed by Mark Landsman. NUVOtv chief creative officer Jennifer Lopez and her sister, Lynda, who together produced the series, were on hand at the July 10 screening in New York City. Los Jets is the first of the “Nu America” shows that Jennifer and Lynda have planned, mixing storytelling and social commentary together.
In an interview with The Wire, Coach Paul Cuadros said that he believes Los Jets will be a series that will be especially enjoyed by a segment of the population he calls “Latinnials.” The term refers to Hispanic-Americans of high-school age and up.
According to Coach Paul Cuadros, “They’re going to fall in love with it, because it’s going to be about them.”
Becoming a high school soccer coach was a bold career move for Paul Cuadros. Before he was a coach, he was an investigative journalist. Coach Cuadros wanted to study and write how Latino immigration had grown in the South. About 15 years ago, he received a grant to fund his research and Cuadros moved to Siler City, considering it an ideal place to document how Latino immigration was growing.
Coach Cuadros sees a love of soccer continually building in America. The sport is rapidly becoming as important to the United States as it is to the rest of the world.
Co-executive producer Jennifer Lopez has always expressed a love for soccer. This year, at the FIFA World Cup opening ceremony, she started off the mega-event with a bang by singing We Are One (Ole Ola) with PitBull.
According to Jennifer Lopez, “[Los Jets] is about the American Dream.” When she heard about the efforts of Coach Cuadros and the high school soccer team, Los Jets, Lopez thought “This needs to be told!”
Coach Cuadros has much to be proud about when it comes to working with members of the Latino community. One of the things he is perhaps the most proud of is that the number of teenage boys on Los Jets who later go on to attend college has dramatically increased over the years. Ten years ago, just one teenager who had been a member of the Los Jets team that won the state championship attended college. Now, the majority of the Los Jets team members go on to attend college. Quite a few Los Jets team members earn academic scholarships, rather than athletic ones.
Tune in to watch the Hoosiers-like Los Jets when the first episode airs on NUVOtv on Wednesday, July 16 at 10 p.m. ET. The episode can also be seen when it becomes available online at Hulu Latino. Besides Jennifer Lopez and her sister, Lynda, bringing to TV how soccer and Coach Paul Cuadros have influenced the lives of the teenage members of Los Jets for the better, there are also moments of real tear-jerking moments of heartfelt emotion in the six-episode series. It is Must-See TV at its best.
Written By Douglas Cobb
Los Jets Video Trailer for the NUOVOtv series
(The photograph at the top of this article is of Los Jets team members Darwin Ramirez, Martin Carrillo, Daniel Estrada, Jonathan Lopez, Cirilo Rangel. It is being used courtesy of NUVOtv)