BHS football honored for patriotism

BHS football honored for patriotismBy BRIAN COSNER, News Review Staff Writer

After the Burroughs High School football team’s patriotic homecoming display went viral and reached millions around the world, the community came together not only to offer its thanks, but also to contribute $17,000 to the BHS football program.

The Ridgecrest City Council presented the gift to the team during its meeting on Wednesday night where community leaders came to congratulate the athletes and Head Coach Todd Mather.

“Football is just a game,” said Kern County 1st District Supervisor Mick Gleason. “It’s the values that you bring to the sport that is going to carry the day, and that you’re going to bring with you for the rest of your life. What you did with those flags — you showed the world and you showed our country, in desperate need of leadership, that there’s a corner of this world that stands for America.”

A video captured by local resident Tina Haugen showed the team entering the field waving dozens of American flags as Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” blared over the crowd’s thunderous applause. In one week, the video was picked up and shared by national media outlets and had been viewed more than 7 million times.

“I was truly moved by the patriotic spirit of your football program and wish to congratulate you on a job well done,” said a proclamation from State Senator Jean Fuller, read by Councilmember Lindsay Stephens.

Mayor Peggy Breeden also thanked the team on behalf of Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division Commander Rear Adm. Brian Corey, Naval Air Weapons Station Commanding Officer Captain Paul Dale and Assemblyman Vince Fong, each of whom was unable to attend the meeting.

Councilmember Eddie Thomas also announced on behalf of the Desert Empire Fairgrounds that each member of the team and coaching staff would receive a lifetime fairgrounds membership

“We know you didn’t do this for a reward,” said Breeden as she presented the community’s generous donation to the team captains. “But we’realso going to give you a task – what can you do to make our community better?”

While the donation was a “no-restrictions” gift, Breeden asked that the team make an effort to give back to the community rather than use the funds for new uniforms.

“We didn’t do this to make any political stance,” said Mather. “We did this because we feel it’s the right thing to do in our country. We didn’t expect this to get this big. We’re happy about it, of course, because we feel like we have an outstanding community.”

Mather said teammembers donate numerous hours to community service projects, like community cleanups. “Our No. 1 goal as coaches is to teach these kids about giving back to the community and asking them what kind of legacy they want to leave.”

Mather praised the community for the way it rallies ot support those in need and thanked everyone for their contributions to the team.

“We wanted to show everybody that our community is one of the greatest in our country,” he said. “There are fantastic people here.”

After the presentation Mather and the team headed back to BHS to practice for this Friday’s game against the Sultana High School Sultans, 7 p.m. at the BHS field.

Pictured: Burroughs High School?varsity football players and coaches accept $17,000 from donors who lauded their patriotic pre-game ceremony before the Homecoming Game. The video went viral, got picked up by national news media, and was viewed more than 7 million times. -- Photo by Laura Austin

Story First Published: 2017-11-03