CHARLOTTESVILLE — The 2013 success of the Eastern Hancock football team attracted a few extra kids to the 2014 roster.
So, Eastern Hancock went out and found a little extra money.
At the Indianapolis Colts’ preseason game Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium, the Royals and nine other schools were presented with checks from the Colts and USA Football.
Each squad, which includes youth football leagues and high school programs, was awarded a $1,000 grant.
“One of our moms, Dana Allen, was gracious enough to go out and do all the leg work for it,” EH coach Jim O’Hara said of the grant application process. “A lot of teams don’t apply for it. But, we sent ours in, and were chosen. It’s a pretty cool deal.”
O’Hara, in his first year in Charlottesville, inherited a roster that swelled following the Royals’ march to the Class A State Finals a year ago. That team, which finished 14-1, had 54 players.
There are 70 young men on O’Hara’s squad. That’s 16 extra uniforms, helmets and pads that must be purchased.
“Mr. Spaulding’s not too happy with me,” O’Hara joked, referring to EH athletics director Aaron Spaulding. “We’ve actually got four kids that want to play right now that we don’t have helmets for.”
The $1,000, which must be used on Riddell products, will help the Royals outfit their unit, and Spaulding isn’t complaining.
“Every bit of money helps,” he said. “The cost of (football) equipment is very expensive. We are thankful for all the aid we can get.”
In addition to the grant, Eastern Hancock was awarded 100 tickets to the Colts’ matchup Saturday vs. the New Orleans Saints.
Eastern Hancock, Southport and Marion were the only high schools to earn the grant. The other recipients were youth leagues in Crawfordsville, Edinburgh, Fishers, Muncie, Kokomo, Lafayette and Seymour.
Spaulding also thanked Allen for her work in winning the grant. He said that kind of teamwork is vital.
“It has been a joint effort between the athletic department, our EH Athletics Boosters, and our football program to make sure every athlete is properly equipped,” Spaulding noted.
Thirty-six other Indiana youth and high school programs have received $33,000 this year through USA Football equipment grants, made possible by the Colts and the NFL Foundation. USA Football and the NFL’s 32 teams award $1 million in grants annually to youth and high school football programs based on need and merit.
“The equipment grants are one of the many ways we’re dedicated to strengthening local youth football leagues and communities by providing funding and other resources for their continued growth,” Colts owner Jim Irsay said in a statement.
O’Hara heard of the recent grant opportunity from Mike Prior, a former Colts safety who now serves as the organization’s Youth Football Commissioner, overseeing 100 camps annually.
O’Hara and Prior coached together at Indianapolis Cathedral.
“He told me this was something we should apply for,” said O’Hara, adding that the growth of the EH program wouldn’t have been possible without the 2013 group, coached by Pat Echeverria, now at Zionsville. “One of the selling points of our application was that we’re a growing program. It’s a credit to last year’s success.”