Thursday, August 7, 2008

Charlotte schools rally to help Providence

Providence High’s football team, as athletics director Phillip Schundlemire said, could have “been in a world of hurt.”

Instead, the generosity of other schools and some timely maneuvering by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ athletics department made the start of practice as smooth as possible.

Two days before practice began, an early-morning fire leveled two storage buildings and destroyed about $20,000 worth of equipment, not the kind of distraction a team ever needs.

“A good many schools volunteered to lend us equipment right away,” Schundlemire said. “Ardrey Kell, Independence, Mallard Creek, just about everyone. But (CMS athletics director) Vicki Hamilton has to be credited for stepping up and expediting matters for us to be able to get new stuff right away.”

Providence was able to obtain almost everything it needed, and even watched some of it being put together at Fisher Athletic Equipment (in Salisbury), Schundlemire said.

When practice began Friday, Providence was in good shape.

Schundlemire has worked at various CMS schools the past 19 years, and wasn’t surprised that others offered immediate help.

“The ADs are a great bunch of guys and gals,” he said. “We don’t like to see each other suffer. We’ve all had problems in some fashion or another and know what it’s like.”

Coach Randy Long didn’t let the fire dampen players’ spirits, Schundlemire said. The Panthers didn’t long for much, and practices beckoned, so there weren’t lengthy periods of angst or remorse.

“It’s just good to know the people I work with have our backs when something like this happened,” Schundlemire said. “It all worked out well.”

- Cliff Mehrtens