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Former Buffalo Bills player returning to WNY to create new space for youth athletics

"With our program, once you come in, it's like family. We really do this to change their lives."
Full Circuit Athletics, LLC.
Posted at 12:50 AM, Apr 28, 2023

HAMBURG, N.Y. (WKBW) — A former Buffalo Bill is on a mission to uplift young athletes in the Western New York region and he is doing it in the form of a sports complex.

All of this is still in its preliminary stage but there is one location that might house the next youth complex, to essentially grow youth in not only their athletic abilities but in the classroom and in life.

7 News' Pheben Kassahun spoke with former Bills wide receiver, Stevie Johnson, about his vision and the help he is getting to make it a reality, in Hamburg.

"Sometimes I workout in the weight room and practice my sports to get better," youth athlete, Karter Karstedt said.

For nine-year-old Karter Karstedt ball is life.

"I play baseball, basketball and football. Some kids just like to go on their video games and it's good to just workout and get stronger," Karstedt said.

Nine times out of ten, you can catch him at his father's full circuit athletics facility in Hamburg working on his fitness.

"My agility, my running, my strength and my QB work. I'm a quarterback for the Eden Raiders," the 9-year-old told Kassahun.

His father, Charlie Karstedt, and former University at Buffalo baseball player created the business more than 12 years ago.

It sits on 16 acres of land.

Full Circuit Athletics, LLC owner, Charlie Karstedt said, "Right now, we have one complex here. We have two buildings within it that are turfed out with batting cages, pitching mounds, open space for all sports to use (ie. baseball, football, soccer, lacrosse). We get a lot of different age groups in here, different sports in here."

Meeting athletes from all walks of life, that is how Karstedt met former Bills player Stevie Johnson about three years ago.

Now living in California, Johnson is now working has way back to Buffalo by way of expanding a vision with Karstedt.

"I just take everything that I did in my life. Take every situation in the sportsplex. It was similar to the Boys and Girls Club that I had growing up. I felt like that was a safe space for me. When I look back at it, it's the mentors that were in there. It's the people that were working that Boys and Girls Club that was similar to a Sportsplex because it had all types of sports. Different sports like basketball, it had the football field," Stevie Johnson said.

All of it is preliminary because Johnson is looking for sponsors, donors and trying to lock down location options.

"We can help them with skills and we can help them in life later on in the future because like everyone knows, not everyone is going to make it into the league," Johnson said. "You can still hone in on skills and other skills that people have in the area and that ties into the whole complex and building it out."

"Being in Hamburg, we're in a good location here. We're in the Southtowns area but we're a 20 minute ride from the City of Buffalo and the outskirts. We're also close enough to the Southern Tier which doesn't have a lot of options for indoor athletic space and training for kids,"Karstedt said.