Two Rotary clubs in the Newark area, Newark Morning and Newark, presented new practice equipment and game jerseys to the members of Newark High School’s football squad.
A two-man Tek sled and a pop-up tackle sled, as well as 50 reversible stretch mesh jerseys, were purchased as part of a Rotary District grant, totaling $8,000. The practice equipment arrived at the end of August and the jerseys have been worn for this season’s games.
Most of the football practice equipment at Newark High School had not been replaced in more than 20 years. Not only was this equipment broken and useless, but failure to adopt modern injury-reducing technology with advanced materials and designs has increased risks to players, the Rotary release noted.
Last year out of the 60 NHS football players, there were 21practice-related injuries, according to Coach Barry Zehnder.
When members of the two Rotary clubs became aware of the need for more modern equipment and a safer practice environment for the players, they applied for and received a grant that, along with additional funds from each club, would cover the cost to replace the tackle equipment and worn out jerseys.
They also recognized that while some students are drawn to the arts and music, many more are attracted by sports.
“Involvement in sporting activities can provide many developmental and instructional benefits,” said Rotarian Clinton Tymes, “including personal leadership and team responsibilities. These skills carry over into a youth’s daily life, both inside and outside the classroom.”
Along with reduced frequency of practice related injuries and avoiding recovery care with new practice equipment, the players can now focus on technique.
“These new tackle sleds are better than the old stuff,” said Quarterback Mele Statlings. “We can start to work on proper technique rather than worry about broken equipment that didn’t work.”
“It’s great to see the local community organizations come together to support our schools,” he said at a recent Friday night game. “We really appreciate all your support and school spirit,” Zehdner said.
District grants are awarded to Rotary club projects that focus on health, education, literacy, and humanitarian needs in the community. The three clubs in Newark are part of Rotary International, a global service organization that pulls together the resources necessary to solve problems globally as well as locally.