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Community rallies around Boys Club of York football program after flood wreaks havoc

RYAN VANDERSLOOT
717-505-5403/@yascores
Boys Club of York football equipment is laid out to dry after after a recent rain storm flooded the shed where the equipment was housed.
  • The Boys Club of York recently sustained damage to some of its equipment during a flood.
  • A Facebook fundraiser has raised more than $5,000 to make up for the club's losses.
  • York High head football coach Russ Stoner and some of his players helped in the cleanup.

It's obvious by now that 2020 has been quite a challenge for most youth sports leagues.

The onset of the coronavirus pandemic forced numerous shutdowns, starting in mid-March. Eventually, some sports restrictions were lifted, but planning youth sports activities during a pandemic became logistically difficult.

Cleaning and sanitizing existing equipment, while also having to purchase new materials, is no easy task. Neither is making sure that health and safety protocols are in place and followed in an effort to keep everyone safe.

All of that was heaped on top of the already difficult task of raising funds to keep the organizations financially afloat.

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The last thing that any youth sports organization needs right now is another headache.

Unfortunately, the Boys Club of York football program recently found itself with a pretty big, and unexpected, headache. Fortunately for the club, however, the York community rallied around the BCY to offer support, both financially and physically.

The flood: It started last Friday afternoon, Aug. 7. That's when BCY football director Jeff Matson witnessed a flash flood pour rain down at the field across the street from Kiwanis Lake off Pennsylvania Avenue.

“I was at the field in the concession stand, and as the rain stopped I was just about ready to leave,” Matson said. “And I just looked over my shoulder and saw the baseball field was flooded with about two feet of water.”

The Boys Club of York football equipment shed is shown after recent rains flooded the facility, causing significant damage.

The quick downpour flooded Willis Run, which runs next to the football and baseball fields at Noonan Park. The BCY storage shed, which houses most of the program’s equipment, is located just feet from the bank of the creek.

“The water was about six inches up into our shed,” Matson said. “And our equipment was starting to float out of it.”

The damage caused was not insignificant. Uniforms, practice equipment and jerseys, as well as the field equipment, housed in the 20-by-10-foot structure, could not be salvaged.

Heartbreaking day: Matson’s heart instantly sank. And not just for himself, but mostly for the kids, who rely on the BCY program for competition and recreation.

“Everyone in the Boys Club of York does this for the kids,” Matson said. “So our hearts all broke Friday. We started back in March and April when all this stuff with COVID happened and we started taking all of the steps necessary that was being recommended for high schools and putting them at the youth level.

“We spent a lot of time to develop an action plan. We got water donations so we didn’t have to share water bottles. And we had an infectious disease control company come in and completely sanitize everything that we owned.”

Pride replaces despair: The despair that Matson felt Friday was replaced by a different emotion by Sunday afternoon — pride. Less than 48 hours after the flood seemingly washed away months of progress, the local community stepped up.

Big time.

Many volunteers, some of whom were coaches from other youth organizations, came out to the field Saturday to help with the initial clean up of the shed, as well as to assess the damages.

“I was just overwhelmed,” Matson said. “There were other coaches and former players and friends and mentors from over the years. It was great to see the community support for the BCY and to see what people are willing to do to help out in a time like this.”

York High head football coach Russ Stoner

York coach, players help out: York High football coach Russ Stoner did his part in helping bring notice to the community of the BCY’s need. The Bearcat coach helped out at the field while getting several of his players involved in the relief effort.

“We’ve worked hand-in-hand with Russ over the past few years and he’s been a huge help with our program and with our coaches,” Matson said. “And right now (Sunday evening) Russ and his wife are washing all of our cloth football equipment. They saw that we were in need and he even sent a few of his players down to field to help us out.”

Fundraiser passes goal: In addition to the hours spent on cleanup, an online fundraiser was set up on Facebook to collect donations to help the BCY replace and repair everything that was lost. The original goal of $5,000 was surpassed by Sunday afternoon. The total stood at $5,360 as of 10 a.m. Tuesday.

“The Boys Club of York has always relied on community support to do the things that we do,” Matson said. “And this far exceeded what any of our expectations were.”

While the original goal of the Facebook fundraiser was met, Matson and the BCY are still unsure of just what the final costs of the damage will ultimately be. Even if the expense is 100 percent covered, donations are always welcomed and needed to keep the program afloat, no pun intended.

“Something that we at the Boys Club of York have always prided ourselves on is that every penny we spend is able to earn its best value,” Matson said. “And, with our program, it’s definitely a struggle most of the time. We are one of the least expensive programs in York City to participate in and we never turn a child away.”

Reach Ryan Vandersloot at sports@yorkdispatch.com.