Monday July 18th, 2016

Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher visited his home state last week, and he came away even more determined to help high school football players in southern West Virginia get back on the field after floods devastated their schools and homes late last month. Fisher and Seminoles offensive line coach Rick Trickett—another West Virginia native—traveled to Clay, W. Va., to meet with players and coaches and to deliver uniforms and pads donated by high school coaches from Florida.

After seeing the damage firsthand, Fisher is pushing again for high school coaches across the country to help their West Virginia brethren by donating one uniform—a helmet and set of pads—to help get the programs in West Virginia back on their feet. (Fisher is asking high school programs to help because most of the Seminoles’ equipment is too large to fit high-schoolers.)

Fisher believes that if the schools affected by the floods can get back to practice and begin their seasons as scheduled next month, it will provide a much-needed dose of normal for people whose entire lives have been upended. “It was very humbling,” Fisher said of his visit. “Some of them are living in tents. Some of them are living in trailers. They’re just trying to survive. And they’re all asking their coaches, ‘Are we going to play ball?’”

Fisher understands their plight. When he was in college in 1985, his hometown of Clarksburg, W.Va., was hit by massive flooding. That flooding caused the deaths of 47 people, and 29 counties were declared federal disaster areas. “They said that was a once-in-a-hundred-year flood,” Fisher said. “Well, we just had another one.” In June, the National Weather Service described the flooding in southern West Virginia as a once-in-a-thousand-year event. Those floods caused 23 deaths and destroyed an estimated 1,200 homes.

Fisher wants those affected to be able to escape into football, if only for a few hours. “I’ve always said as a parent that if my kids are O.K., I can get through anything,” Fisher said. “It allows them to be out there for three hours and forget everything and watch their kids play.”

High school coaches who wish to donate can send equipment to this address: Uniform Flood Donations, c/o Florida State Football, 403 Stadium Drive West, Tallahassee, FL, 32306.

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