GIBSONTON — Nothing else sounds the rallying call for school spirit like high school football. Add a championship season and the enthusiasm of players, students and the community and it can escalate to all-out mania.
Last fall was such a season for East Bay High School. The Indians won their first district championship in 30 years. Finishing the season 8-4, the team went on to win its first regional playoff game in school history.
Then the other cleat dropped.
“The equipment was vital,” head coach Frank LaRosa said. “We use it to watch all of our film.”
And without headsets, which cost $1,800, coaches can forget about effective play calling.
“The headsets were just purchased last fall,” said LaRosa, who has led the team for three years. “We got by with old ones, but they were like circa 1970s.”
So what does a spirited school do after a hard tackle by vandals? It hosts a fundraiser.
On Friday, the East Bay High School Athletic Booster Club will host an evening of live music, food, drawings, games and prizes. Spearheaded by Dawn Barthelette, mother of senior player Conner Garcia, the event will be held from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at the Journey Church Tampa, 310 First St. N.E., Ruskin. Admission is $5.
The music at the event will feature several hip-hop bands.
Several local businesses, including East Coast Pizza, The Alley and Beef ‘O’Brady’s, have agreed to help with food and drawing donations.
With the team’s electronics not covered under the school’s insurance, the estimated cost to replace the stolen items is more than $4,000. Every item must be replaced.
All of the funds raised from the event will go toward replacement.
“I was heartbroken when I heard about the robbery,” Barthelette said. “The boys worked very hard for a long time. East Bay High School may not have a lot of wealthy families but we do have a lot of school spirit.”
LaRosa looks forward to the challenges ahead. Last week, the team began its spring season of training and conditioning, and its first spring game is scheduled for May 22.
“We had a great season last year,” said LaRosa. “We lost 24 seniors, but we’ll be very good again.”
Anyone who can’t make it to the event can make a check out to East Bay Athletic Booster Club and mail it to Journey Church Tampa, 310 First St. N.E., Ruskin FL 33570.
Elaine Speer is a freelance writer who can be reached at [email protected]