Receiver to provide $55,000 worth of football gear to local high schools
Springbrook High School’s football uniforms are nine years old. They’re torn and tattered and the once-crisp white away jerseys have faded to a cloudy cream. The home navy blue jerseys are soiled with years of mud stains that washing machines can’t completely remove.
But during the Blue Devils’ 2013 opener on Sept. 6 against Paint Branch, Springbrook will sport a fresh new look.
Washington Redskins’ wide receiver Pierre Garçon teamed up with sponsor Russell Athletic to donate 150 jerseys — 75 home and 75 away — and 75 pairs of pants to one high school each in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.
In all, the 450 uniforms and 225 pairs of pants would retail at $55,000. Springbrook, along with Virginia’s Thomas Jefferson High and the District’s Theodore Roosevelt High, is getting its for free.
“We definitely needed new uniforms,” said coach Adam Bahr. “We were going to go another year or two with the ones we have out of necessity, but this is a big help.”
At the urging of an old friend, Bahr said, he entered Springbrook into the giveaway competition in late May. Winners would be decided by Facebook votes a week into June.
“I posted the link, I had a couple of friends post it, too, and then it just slipped my mind until everything started happening,” he said. “I have no clue how many votes we got.”
During the last week of school earlier this month, Athletic Director Rob Wendel got a call from Garçon’s agent to inform the school of its fresh new gear. Confused, Wendel forwarded the call along to Bahr.
“I didn’t have any idea what it was about,” Bahr said.
“It sounded like the other schools really made a concerted campaign. For us, maybe it went viral after I posted it, but it didn’t seem that way.”
Sure enough, the Blue Devils were Maryland’s winner and the victory sent Bahr off to work with the Redskins and work out the logistics with Russell Athletic to design the new jerseys. Garçon promised to deliver the gear himself when he launched the contest.
“I know the kids are excited for the jerseys and I am so grateful to be able to be in the position to give back to the community that has done so much for me in my first year in the D.C. area,” Garçon wrote in an email through team spokesman Daniel Sampson.
A sixth-year receiver out of Mount Union University, Garçon, who was hampered by a foot injury early last season, played in 10 games in 2012, his first season with Washington. He returned to catch 44 passes and four touchdowns for Washington and emerged as one of quarterback Robert Griffin III’s favorite targets.
“I decided to sponsor high school football teams, because youth football meant so much to me growing up,” Garçon wrote in the message. “I thought this would be a good way to give back. It is important for me to sponsor local football programs because I wanted to show gratitude to the people of Washington, D.C., and surrounding areas for the support they have given me in just my first year with the Redskins. I want to get more involved with Washington, D.C., Virginia, and Maryland charities to show how thankful I am to be a part of this area and to show my fans that I appreciate their support.”
Bahr says there’s no telling how much Springbrook appreciates Garçon’s support. It would take years of fundraising to earn the money to purchase new uniforms on their own, he said.
“It’s a significant financial undertaking,” he said. “The gift we’re getting from Pierre Garçon is at least a $15,000 gift. That’s a lot of money to raise at some schools, but at our school that’s really a lot.”
For Bahr’s players, the donation adds even more to the anticipation for the first week when the Blue Devils host cross-town rival Paint Branch.
“For me, it builds a lot of anticipation because we have our rival Paint Branch, but looking good builds on to our new season, too,” said senior offensive and defensive lineman Azzan Goode. “We have a whole new attitude. It’s a whole new look for us.”