NORWALK — Staples associate head coach Jon Zames was cleaning out the weight room in Westport this summer when he called Bridgeport Central coach Derrick Lewis.
Zames found surplus equipment that was not going to be used and knew Lewis would be interested.
Staples ended up donating helmets, shoulder pads and Guardian caps to Central’s program.
The Guardian caps, a soft shell cap worn over the helmet during practices to help mitigate repeated blows to the head, cost approximately $60 apiece.
“We could never afford those Guardian caps,” Lewis said. “The kids were so excited to get them even though some of the kids had no idea they existed before we got them. I had parents coming up to me teary-eyed because they were so happy other people were thinking about their kids’ safety.”
After the donation, 10 Central players took to social media to thank the Wreckers, while wearing their new Guardian caps.
It takes a village of amazing people to help you succeed! To our @StaplesFootbal1 brothers, and family we honor you for donating to our program!! @GameTimeCT @BridgeportPSchl @bptcentral @NotSpelledSean pic.twitter.com/tdOI7aaF1k
— Bridgeport Central Football (@CHSFBPRIDE) August 31, 2019
The video has been shared all over and has over 5,000 views on Twitter.
Staples first-year head coach Adam Behrends was fully onboard with the donation.
“I think it’s important anytime you can help somebody and if you have the resources, I don’t see why you wouldn’t do that,” Behrends said at the Ruden Reporter FCIAC Football Media Day at the Colony Grill in Norwalk Tuesday. “I would hate if they had to tell kids they couldn’t play because they don’t have equipment. It’s just people helping people.”
There is a history in the FCIAC of football teams from the more affluent towns donating old gear to cities lacking the funding for new equipment.
Lewis, in his second season at Central, used to coach at Bassick and is no stranger to teams reaching out to help.
Over his years he has received equipment from numerous programs, including Notre Dame-West Haven, New Canaan and Darien.
Lewis said, years ago, Darien coach Rob Trifone gave the Bassick team a 7-man blocking sled, which can range from $5,000-$7,000.
“Football is a fraternity and it is a communal effort. The inner-city kids have to feel that they can do it and things like this really help with that. It gives the kids a sense of belonging,” Lewis said. “This is not a new thing. I have always connected with friends who are coaches to help get what we need for our kids. The city does the best they can, we have had grants, the mayor has donated money to us, it is a real collaboration. What we are able to get from other schools is the extra stuff that gives you an edge.”
Greenwich replaces nine starters on both sides of the ball and its head coach. No big deal.
“We’ve got a lot of young guys. We don’t have a lot of varsity game experience, so until we actually go out and play an opponent, a real game, it’s going to be hard to know where we stand,” coach Anthony Morello said. “But practices are good. They’re competitive.”
That first game for the defending Class LL champions and No. 1 team in last year’s season-ending GameTimeCT poll, is Sept. 14 at home against Danbury.
The Cardinals lost numerous standout players and coach John Marinelli, who is now an assistant coach at the University of Arizona. Morello is an alumnus and a longtime member of the coaching staff, so there’s some continuity.
“We’re just looking to find some cohesiveness. try to pick up where we left off,” Morello said, “but that being said, it’s a different group of guys. Every season’s different, a new mentality. I’m still finding my way as well.
“I’m not Coach Marinelli. I’ve got to be myself. The kids know that. We’re taking on a new identity, but at the same time, we want to play Greenwich football. The expectations are high.”
McMahon’s T-shirts bear the slogan “I choose the wrench” on the back. It’s a reference to the movie “Good Will Hunting.”
The team captains wore the shirts to the annual Ruden Report FCIAC Football Media Night at Colony Grill in Norwalk, Tuesday night.
“It really just means us against the world,” senior Jermayne Daniels said.
The Senators went 2-8 last year. Daniels sees a team that’s working hard to improve on that.
“There’s a lot of young kids that really need to learn,” Daniels said, “but we’ll be fine.”