Hammond’s Erik Kimrey is proud of what his team has accomplished in winning a school-record 20 straight games.
But the Skyhawks’ football coach shared even more joy of what his team did away from the field during the days following the devastating floods throughout the Midlands. From Oct. 6-9, Kimrey and his entire varsity and some JV players helped out at more than 60 houses during the week off of school.
“I said it was the best week of coaching that I ever experienced, and we didn’t touch a football. It was a rewarding experience for me and our players and we learned a lot,” Kimrey said. “There is nothing more rewarding than to see your kids buy into the whole concept of otherness. It was a difficult week, but a good week.”
A day after the heaviest of the flood damage hit, Kimrey said Hammond headmaster Chris Angel talked about doing something to help the more than 30 families in the Hammond community affected by the flood. Kimrey sent out a group text to his team to see who would be willing to help.
To his surprise, Kimrey said more than 40 varsity and JV players said they would be willing to help out. In the next four days, Kimrey and the Skyhawks worked from early in the morning until late in the evening gutting houses, doing demolition work and moving people into apartments.
Kimrey said the week working together was a life-changing experience for him and the players, and also brought them closer together as a team.
“When you are in those kind of situations together, you can form a stronger bond,” Kimrey said. “Our guys are really close. But when you are helping friends and family move out of houses, or gut their houses which they may not keep, there is a weightiness there that draws you together.”
Like many teams in the Midlands, Kimrey said getting back on the field was tough but brought back some resemblance of a normal routine. Hammond shook off the rust from a 10-day layoff and defeated Florence Christian 41-0 for its school-record 20th straight victory. The Skyhawks (7-0) can wrap up the No. 1 seed for next month’s SCISA 3A playoffs with a win at Augusta Christian on Friday.
“We need to win this week to secure the one seed, and that is the focus,” Kimrey said. “We are concerned about getting better and playing on a high level, because we are going to need that for the playoffs.”