After some of Spingarn High's varsity football equipment was stolen last year, one thing that the program could not afford to replace was practice uniforms. So the Green Wave did what many other cash-strapped District athletic teams have done: It survived without them.
But the sight of Spingarn players practicing in mismatched and tattered apparel caught the eye of a group of regulars at Langston Golf Course, the D.C. public facility whose eighth and ninth holes run along the back of Spingarn's athletic fields in Northeast. Former Redskins defensive back and kick returner Ted Vactor and retired District deputy chief of police Melvin Clark organized fellow Langston golfers and raised $2,500 for new practice uniforms.
The D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association, which oversees athletics in the public school system, is replacing the game jerseys that were stolen. But individual schools are now responsible for purchasing practice jerseys and other equipment that the financially strapped DCIAA cannot afford. Coaches and players often turn to alumni, neighborhood businesses or conduct fundraisers for the additional money.
"It was a shame to see the kids not having the equipment and looking as raggedy as they were," said Clark, who often watched practices with friends after rounds of golf. "We had to do something."
The group purchased pads, practice jerseys, pants, belts and balls for the team. They even had numbers printed on the jerseys in case the new game jerseys don't arrive in time for the season opener against Cardozo on Sept. 23.
"These guys understand that when they went to high school that they never had to go through stuff like this," Spingarn Coach John "Peterbug" Matthews said. "I just thought that was so great."
-- Judith Evans