Area residents step up to help buy rings for small town champions
Residents of the northern Hill County town of Blum, population 399, have been celebrating for a month after their six-man football team won the state championship.
"These boys have given this community everything that they possibly can on the football field (including) the championship that everybody's dreamed of, including me," Blum High School football coach Cooper Thornhill said Thursday.
Blum defeated McLean 58-52 at AT&T Stadium on Dec. 18 to win the six-man, Class 1A Division 1 title.
But when it came time to order state championship rings, it was quickly apparent that the small farming community with few businesses to contribute, the money wasn’t there to pay for them.
"We don't have that luxury of having lots of companies here for people to give to us.” Thornhill said.
We are very grateful for every dime that we've gotten and if it takes us six months to raise that money we're going to get those rings for the kids. You know it's an expensive process but that's what state champions get," he said.
But it won’t take six months, thanks to two district employees who set up a GoFundMe page.
"Some of our kids we knew wouldn't be able to come up with the money and so that's kind of when we knew we were going to have to step in and do something extra to try to help these boys and everybody involved get that ring,” volleyball coach and school counselor Lauren McPherson said.
Donations were few and far between, at first, but as the story spread the pace picked up and the account grew to more than $15,000, enough to buy rings for the players and coaches, and pendants for the cheerleaders.
"When I get that ring and put it on my finger it's going to mean the world. It’s going to be my childhood and remind me of the town I lived in,” senior Blain Garza said.
Teammate Harley Martindale agrees.
“When I get that ring and put it on my finger, it's just going to remind me of all the good times that we had with my friends playing football and learning how to grow up in this community and everybody here."