Football team receives cleats from Nike, gifts to less privileged school

On Dec. 11, Westlake became a member of an elite fraternity of high school teams as they advanced to a State Championship game. With this achievement the Chaps received an early accolade as Nike, a world renowned shoe company, came and gifted the school with a complete wardrobe of new cleats for the team. While the team was excited about this gift, head coach Todd Dodge decided to give the footwear to a less fortunate school that couldn’t afford to equip its team with such top-of-the-line performance shoes.

“I definitely feel like we would have been looking sexy and definitely be feeling fast and well equipped, but in reality how you play isn’t going to be affected that drastically by what you put on your feet,” defensive end junior Evan Smith said. “It comes down to your physical athletic ability and your will to win. I know some of our teammates were disappointed that we gave away the cleats, but we are well off financially and can afford good equipment. Many other schools in the area are not as fortunate.”

While the decision from Dodge left many players feeling disappointed, some of the players felt like it was the right thing to do for an economically disadvantaged school.

“Overall I think it was a great opportunity for us as a team to give back to the community and to a team that needed the cleats more than we did,” kicker junior Beau Burbach said. “It showed how we really are a team both on and off the field.”

While questions arose about the legality of Nike’s donation, the UIL reviewed the situation and determined that there was no wrong doing.

“There are no UIL rules that would prohibit the school from accepting [the cleats],” Deputy Director of Policy and Administration Jamey Harrison said. “[Nike’s] donation to the school would be viewed similarly to any other donation to the school.”

Other players were looking toward to wearing the top-of-the-line cleats, but realized that they were contributing to helping a school in greater need than themselves.

“As much as we all wanted those cleats, looking back on it I think we can all agree it was the best decision and represents what our program believes in,” defensive back junior Alex De La Fuente said.

While the Chaps may not have won on the field, they certainly won off the field by embracing the spirit of the holidays and giving to the less privileged.

“I think that it was a great idea to give them away,” linebacker junior Levi Jones said. “We are already so blessed to have the opportunity to receive them, but we wanted to give back and bless someone less fortunate than us.”

During a week in which they were feverishly preparing for the State Championship, the Chaps found time to give to the needy and think about someone other than themselves.

“I feel like this being the season of giving and how blessed our school is with money, it was a class act by Coach Dodge to gift the cleats to an under privileged school,” Evan said.