Despite the recent budget cuts that were passed by the Warwick School Committee, which included all high school sports, the Pilgrim football team is staying focused and putting its best foot forward as the summer progresses.
The team has continued to hold workouts each week, and was back at it on Tuesday afternoon with nearly 50 kids in attendance. The club has also organized multiple fundraising efforts to help fund the team, whether it be for equipment, transportation, etc.
There is currently an ongoing online fundraiser that was created by the team on snap-raise.com, which can also be found on Twitter. The team raised just shy of $4,000 dollars as of Wednesday morning, with a goal set at $5,500. The team will also be hosting a car wash at the Pilgrim senior center on July 13th, and will be canning at local grocery stores on July 28th.
“We’re trying not to focus (the cuts) and go as if nothing is happening. We are hoping to use that money for other things than just funding the program, things like equipment, endzone cameras. It’s been getting a lot of supporters which has made us pretty optimistic, it’s been getting a lot of retweets on Twitter, the news is going around very quickly so it’s good,” said Pilgrim player Connor Fallon.
Pilgrim head coach Blake Simpson encourages locals to show their support, especially football fans.
“We had these fundraisers planned before the news broke. A lot of people are thinking that we’re just doing these fundraisers so we can fund ourselves, but that’s not the case. We’re just going with the flow and hoping for the best news possible. We don’t want it to seem that we’re just looking for money to fund ourselves, we want it to be more local, we want people in Warwick to know that if you like football, here is your chance to help out,” said Simpson.
With much uncertainly surrounding the team and the upcoming season, some were unsure of what the preseason attendance would look like for these local programs. However, the Pats’ numbers have remained consistent, and the returners are looking to be back on the field and compete for a Super Bowl.
“It has a lot to do with last year. A lot of us that were here last year want revenge, and a lot of the younger guys that weren’t here saw the run that we went on despite the expectations. This is so important to us, and it goes so much farther than just us here. A lot of these kids in Warwick don’t have the best life at home, they don’t have a lot of (opportunities), and with a team like this and with these coaches, you build a family that you can’t get anywhere else but sports,” said Pilgrim player Ethan Laramee, who has also been excited to see the word spread throughout the city. “I think it says a lot about the community and how it feels about high school football. Football, and all of fall sports, we’re the first ones that are facing the cuts, so I think that it is important that we get the word out now. It’s good because it gives us publicity, we got some publicity from Will Blackmon on Twitter, it’s really important.”
Fallon also echoed those sentiments.
“Sports mean everything to everyone. Pilgrim, Toll Gate, we have our little rivalry, but it’s friendly and we all want the same thing. I have friends at Toll Gate that I only see during sports, and many kids use athletics as motivation to keep their grades up, it’s important,” said Fallon.
Simpson also stressed the importance of enjoying the summer and not looking too far ahead to his players as the community continues to fight for its athletics.
“Pilgrim football has been buzzing. There are a lot of kids here because they want to be part of something special. My biggest concern for these kids right now is them being kids,” said Simpson. “I’ve told them that they shouldn’t be worried about city council meetings, school committee meetings, you’re kids, be kids. Enjoy your summer and focus on your sports.”