"We have an equipment building that’s next to the field. It was on the neighbor’s roof,” said Jefferson football coach Kendall Hill. “Our training equipment building is wrapped around a tree across the street. Our tower we film practice at is wrapped around the goalpost. It was pretty bad. It was pretty bad.”
The Jefferson High School football field shows evidence of the tornado that tore through the campus Sunday evening. But the damage to the buildings does not reflect how the football program sees itself in recovery.
“Our Patriot pride is on the inside,” said Hill. “We bleed that. It doesn’t matter what the building is, what the walls look like or what the mascot looks like at the school. We’re Patriots and we’re going to get it done as Patriots.”
“I just really miss being able to bond with my brothers,” said Jefferson senior football player Alejandro Salazar. “It’s who they are, how I know them and I just miss those moments.”
The Patriots have not been able to practice since the storm hit the community, with coach Kendall Hill saying every one of his 62 football players have been impacted at some level.
But the biggest impact for the football team came in the loss of almost all of the programs’ equipment.
“I’m telling kids, who is missing a hip pad? Who is missing a knee pad? It’s what we’re about to go through,” said Hill.
That’s where the community began to help, with SMU donating cleats and gloves, Big Game Football Factory offering new game footballs, and the Dallas Cowboys planning a donation presentation during Saturday’s homecoming game, all while the Jefferson Patriots do their best to focus on the game they love so much, while their community begins tries to recover from a storm that impacted so many.
“Regardless of win, lose or tie, I’m still living, I’m still here, my family is still here, and I get to play,” said Hill. “Let’s go have fun.”
“All you can do is put in everything you can, go to practice, show out, and pour your heart out,” said Salazar.