Photo: Los Jets
The story of how a nearly all-Hispanic high school soccer team changed a conservative town in North Carolina had been brought to television by Jennifer Lopez.
J.Lo and sister Lynda Lopez are co-executive producers of “Los Jets,” a six-part series that premiered Wednesday night on NUVOtv, an English-language cable network aimed at Latinos.
Though inspired in part by a book by the squad’s founder and coach, former investigative journalist Paul Cuadros, about Los Jets’ 2004 state championship, the docu-series was filmed last fall and depicts contemporary reality in Siler City, a rural town of roughly 8,200 people.
Cuadros, who moved to the town in 1999 after receiving a grant to study the impact of surging Latino numbers in the U.S. Southeast, convinced Jordan-Matthews High School to let him start a soccer team.
The journalist-turned-coach envisioned the squad as a way to let Hispanic students form a connection with the school and the community.
Los Jets, as they came to be known, first took the field in 2002 and, like the other Latinos in Siler City, had to endure xenophobic and racist insults from some locals unhappy about the burgeoning immigrant population.
But the team’s surprise championship run just two years later served to open some minds.
Siler City is now more than half-Hispanic and some of the original Jets are raising children of their own in the town, Cuadros notes.
The first generation of players were immigrants or children of immigrants and that remains largely the case 12 years later.
The series, directed by Mark Landsman for the Lopez sisters’ Nuyorican Productions, “is about the American Dream,” J.Lo said.