West Virginians affected by the devastating floods earlier this month will get a much-needed boost from local prep football teams next week.
The flooding accounted for 23 fatalities and destroyed over 1,000 homes, yielding a state of emergency issued by President Barack Obama.
While football may be one of the last things on the mind of victims, a significant amount of high school programs saw a total loss of football equipment.
Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher and Alabama head coach Nick Saban — both West Virginia natives — have allied with numerous coaches to rally high schools in their respective states to find donations for the cause.
Fisher and the Noles reached out to teams in the PNJ area (as well as throughout Florida) and Pensacola High head coach Mike Mincy offered to spearhead the area’s effort.
Florida State’s selflessness and desire to provide aid to schools more than 500 miles away did not surprise Mincy one bit.
“I’ve known Jimbo (Fisher) for a long time, and he’s always been this way,” Mincy said. “He (Fisher) steps up and helps people in all walks of life. That’s what makes him the man he is. They are folks at the pinnacle of college football and they are concerned about high schools not being able to play. They could’ve easily not given it a second thought. But they did all of this just to get things done for West Virginia.”
Fisher’s letter and mission caught like wildfire in the area, and Mincy was able to bring a shipment of equipment (from PHS and Catholic High) to Tallahassee on Wednesday.
West Florida and Tate have also committed to donating gear, and Mincy expects to have it delivered — along with contributions from any other schools — by the July 25 deadline.
“At Catholic High we are an extremely blessed program and community …it was the right thing to do,” said Catholic head coach Greg Seibert, whose Crusaders donated 36 shoulder pads to the cause. “I can’t stand in front of my players and ask them to do the right thing, if I don’t model that when presented with a situation like this. I think we won’t miss those shoulder pads, and those children need them. I feel assured they will be put to good use.”
And though the donations will never reverse the tragedy, Fisher, high school coaches and all supporters know just how vital sports can be do a community.
“It’s amazing how sporting events, at times, they bring communities and people back together and remind them that things are going to be OK,” said Fisher, while speaking in his hometown Clarksburgh, W. Va., earlier this month. “There’s not many things in the community that everybody can go to and feel good about, watching their kids and grandkids and nieces, nephews, whatever it is, play. We just think it’s a little bit of something we can try to do to help them get back on their feet.”
Donations can also be shipped to Florida State at Uniform Flood Donation, c/o Florida State Football, 403 Stadium Drive West, Tallahassee, FL 32306.