ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — For 81-year-old George “Jelly” Riles, athletics has been part of his life from his early days. Even when he was playing football and running track at the old Lucy Addison High School in the late 1950s.
“The experience which I got when I was in tiptop shape, I lived in Southwest and each day in the training session in the summer, we had to go to Addison twice a day. We had to walk or jog up to three miles a way,” said Riles.
Riles was drafted into the Army in November 1964 serving two years. He has pride in being in the military.
“It was an honor to wear the uniform even though I didn’t like to wear uniforms. It was an honor for me to walk down the street with my military uniform on and representing this country in Germany,” said Riles.
Riles went on to college but then in 1973, he got the call from Brad Showalter to join an organization to shape youth through athletics, the Inner City Athletic Association.
“Inner City started because of the blacks came together and integration came in and played. They came together so they could help each other with the expenses. Because the community was poor as we had no backing,” said Riles.
Throughout the history of Inner City, Coach Jelly salutes the positive impact of the organization in molding young men and women into strong and productive adults.
“We have took pride in giving our kids a way out of the hood I always tell them. I always tell them the way out of the hood and come see me and as time went on we became more prosperity in our winnings and teaching our kids about life and about sports and life,” said Riles.
Riles is known by everyone in Roanoke as “Jelly.”
He tells WFXR, that he got the nickname from eating eclairs as well as carrying 20 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on his football trips to Norfolk. Riles said they would laugh at him about the sandwiches but at night they would ask him for a sandwich.