AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — The calendar may say March, but it’s the beginning of football season across Colorado.
Hinkley High School in Aurora is one of 48 teams that did not participate during ‘Season A’ this past fall due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, seven months later, they are set to take the practice field for the first time on Thursday.
“This is the longest I’ve coached without a game,” says first year head coach T.C. Newland who has planned for this day since May 2020.
In a season like no other due to the pandemic, Newland and the staff at Hinkley will face a mountain of challenges. Team meetings are taking place on video conferencing. Limited players are on the practice field. Locker rooms are shutdown. And transportation to-and-from games is not being provided by Aurora Public Schools, creating a problem of how players will pack their equipment for transport. Not having those travel bags leaves the school with few options as the spring season approaches.
“How am I going to pay for these bags?” says Coach Newland, knowing the cash limits of public high school football.
Then last Friday, their playbook opened up.
Armed with an oversized check and a Broncos boat hat, Denver quarterback Drew Lock joined the Thunderbirds virtually on their video conference call.
“Hopefully this can spread throughout the school and help you play,” Lock told the team in a 30-minute Zoom call.
The Broncos quarterback, along with the New Era Cap Company, is sending $10,000 to the school’s football program. Hinkley is one of five high school football programs across the country to receive this donation.
Newland says the money allows the football program to buy new helmets, team gear for the coaching staff, and most important: new equipment bags for the team.
“That’s the easiest fundraiser I have ever had,” jokes Newland, who credits his Athletic Director Rodney Padilla for making this makeshift season work.
“We’re just glad to be able to take the field.”
Hinkley will kick off the season Saturday, March 20 vs. Northglenn.