East High chosen for grant, saluted by Manning
What a day for East High School football.
Tuesday morning, head coach Jeff Trotter found out his program was one of 10 chosen nationwide to receive a $10,000 Smarter Football grant from the Riddell Sports Group. The Elyria, Ohio based company manufactures football equipment.
East needs new helmets, so Trotter filled out the information packet and entered his team.
And then there was NFL great Peyton Manning, appearing on a YouTube video congratulating the T-Birds.
"I was excited when I heard about the Thunderbird program," said Manning as part of the statement honoring the team, and some relief to Trotter.
"It's been a really hard go of things for the last seven years, trying to raise money, replace a lot of equipment I wasn't going to put my own kid in, so, I wasn't going to put someone else's in," Trotter told KTVA Sports.
Federal guidelines require helmets to be replaced every 10 years. The T-Birds have roughly 30 helmets that are nearly that old. Each one will cost close to $400 to replace, that's money the school does not have.
The $10,000 grant will help pay for the new equipment as part of Riddell's "Smarter Football" program.
"[East High School] started their season without enough equipment for all the football players that wanted to play, we, of course, through the grant, want to make sure every player has proper equipment, and that it's properly fit, should they be taking the field," said Riddell spokesperson Erin Griffin.
East High received the grant for using the "Hawk Tackling" program, created by the Seattle Seahawks to promote heads-up tackling techniques and the school's "Work for Relief" program, which helps players earn money to pay for football equipment.
The new helmets could arrive in time for East to play in the state title game. First, though, the T-Birds must get past West in Saturday's semi-final.
This is the third year of the program, and the first time Manning has been involved with it.