Rob Gronkowski vows to replace Tampa high school football equipment lost in suspected arson

Last month, a Tampa Bay high school football team lost all of its football equipment when a fire burned down a storage shed.

On Tuesday, Rob Gronkowski vowed to replace it. The new Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end made the announcement on Instagram while sporting the style — and sunglasses — only Gronk can pull off.

“Last week, we heard about an unfortunate incident in Tampa where a fire burned down a high school storage shed full of their team’s football equipment,” Gronkowski said. “Sadly they lost it all.

“Well the Gronk Nation Youth Foundation and my new team the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are all about helping youth reach their full potential. So we’re gonna do just that. To the Blake High School Yellow Jackets, you’re getting a brand new storage unit and new football equipment to replace everything that was lost.”

No budget to replace equipment

The fire occurred on May 17 at Blake High School, an inner-city school in Tampa. The fire was contained to the storage shed, but burned everything inside including game-day equipment, field markers, pylons, chains, practice equipment, pop-up dummies, pads and workout gear, junior varsity head coach Michael Castellana told The Tampa Bay Times.

“It all could have cost more than $15,000 easily,” Castellana said. "The budgets are so tight. The money won’t be there to replace everything, let alone 25 percent of it.”

Rob Gronkowski is helping a Tampa high school football team in need. (Photo by Tibrina Hobson/FilmMagic)
Rob Gronkowski is helping a Tampa high school football team in need. (Photo by Tibrina Hobson/FilmMagic)

Castellana said after the fire that some of the equipment had been purchased personally by football coaches and that they would try to replace some of the items themselves.

“We get our players off to college the best we can,” Castellana said after the fire. “This is equipment they need. You can improvise on some things but not everything. This is just devastating right now.”

Suspect confessed to arson

Police charged a juvenile with two counts of second-degree arson on June 2 after he confessed to setting fire to the shed, according to the Times.

Access to school facilities has been restricted because of the COVID-19 shutdown, but head coach Duane Thomas had hoped to start practicing on July 15. Now it sounds like they’ll be able to do so with state-of-the-art equipment courtesy of Tampa’s newest All-Pro tight end.

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