Two high schools take the field each year in blue and white uniforms, ready to win in the name of Mustang pride.
One is Kingwood High School in Houston, which was completely flooded by Hurricane Harvey. The other, Medford High School, is sending a truckload of athletic equipment — including baseball bats, field markers, and uniforms bearing the Mustang name — to assist the Texas school as it begins to rebuild.
When Medford High baseball coach Mike Nestor watched footage of the hurricane storming across Texas, he felt the urge to help.
“I remember thinking, ‘Once the water recedes, these kids are gonna have nothing,’” Nestor said. “’No balls, nothing to play with. What’s going to keep them off the streets?’”
Soon enough, Medford High School, in collaboration with Mayor Stephanie Muccini Burke’s office, was collecting donations of new or gently used athletic equipment and funds to help.
Organizers of the drive got in contact with the JJ Watt Foundation — a nonprofit currently focusing on Houston relief — to find an athletic department in need, said Lisa Evangelista, an organizer and public information officer for the Medford schools. The foundation told them about Kingwood. Those in Medford soon realized that they shared a mascot and school colors with the Houston school.
“It felt like fate,” Evangelista said.
Jerri Monbaron is executive director of the Humble Independent School District Educational Foundation, which serves the school district that includes Kingwood. She said about 2,800 students from the high school have been relocated to a school about 45 minutes away, since the Kingwood campus will be closed for at least a year. All the Kingwood Mustang sports teams are playing this year, sharing fields with neighboring schools.
“Football continues in Texas, no matter what,” Monbaron said.
Medford student-athletes and staff loaded up an 18-wheeler truck with 13 pallets of sporting equipment, shoulder pads, and helmets; 28 boxes of new athletic clothing; and a pallet each of field chalk and infield conditioner. They’ve also collected cash donations.
The Medford High media department put together a video to accompany the donation, featuring students, faculty, and Medford community members showing support for the Kingwood Mustangs.
Monbaron said the incoming equipment will help student athletes whose equipment was lost or ruined in the flooding. Humble’s educational foundation is also accepting donations for Kingwood’s rebuild and other relief projects at www.humbleisdfoundation.org.Laura Elyse King can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @lauraelyseking.