September 29, 2011
A Michigan high school has had to rally for emergency donations to play its homecoming game on Friday after thieves broke into its field house and made off with most of the team's new varsity football gear.
According to the Detroit News and Detroit Free Press, Detroit (Mich.) Frederick Douglass College Preparatory Academy football coaches discovered that thieves broke into their school's field house over the weekend, taking half of the team's helmets, shoulder pads and other protecting padding in the process.
The lost equipment sent the program into a crisis mode just days before its 2011 homecoming game, with players forced to practice without pads and coaches scrambling to land donations or extra equipment from other schools.
"They took 20 helmets, 20 shoulder pads and a box of other pads," Douglass football coach Al Demps told the Detroit News. "I have 40 kids on my team. We need to find equipment. We're working on it now.
"We've had some donations coming in. Coaches from [Detroit] Allen Academy said they have 15 to 20 new shoulder pads they can lend me. And they might have some other pads. We're reaching out to whomever we can. We'll go without pads today [at practice]."
Demps insists that the team will play its game on Friday as scheduled, though it may take a near miracle for the school to outfit all 40 varsity players in time. In addition to the padding being donated by Allen Academy, the Free Press reported that the owner of a local Ford dealership had stepped up to donate $3,000 toward purchasing new gear for the team.
That will go a long way toward helping a program that was already facing a tough road in 2011 stay on the field. The emphasis in that last sentence belongs on the word "road." Douglass is playing its entire season schedule on the road because the school's home field was deemed unfit for play. On Friday, Douglass will play its own homecoming game against Detroit (Mich.) Denby High … at Denby High.
Through it all, the team somehow keeps winning. Despite the team's relatively small roster size, incredibly limited resources and road warrior schedule, Douglass stands at 4-1 after its first five games of the season.
Now, Douglass' players are determined to make sure that their season ends on a field somewhere, and not looking at an empty equipment shed.
"It was shocking to see what we had is all gone," Douglass sophomore wide receiver Omari Taylor told the Free Press. "It was just heartwarming to see that other people care for young men. I just want to say thank you."