Varsity Kansas

Wichita-area basketball coaches team up to help Houston flood victims

Wichita area high school basketball coaches at East, Northwest, Derby, and Mulvane are teaming up to help provide relief for the Houston flood victims.

Houston men’s basketball coach Kelvin Sampson issued a challenge to college basketball programs throughout the country earlier this week: donate 10 pairs of shoes and 20 shirts to the victims.

East coach Joe Jackson, Derby coach Brett Flory, and Mulvane coach Mike Abasolo have combined their efforts this week and report they have already exceeded Sampson’s requests. Northwest has started its own campaign, spearheaded by coach Bryan Chadwick, and have had encouraging results already.

“I told my kids that in life there is going to come a point in the lives of each and every one of us that we are going to be in need and we’re going to want someone to be there for us when that moment comes,” Flory said. “It only makes sense for us to be there for other people when the opportunity presents itself.”

Abasolo has paired with Shirts Plus, Inc., which has agreed to send the final package collected by East, Derby, and Mulvane students to Houston at a discounted rate.

Jackson said it was something he felt strongly about since he has several connections to the Houston area.

“There’s a lot of people down there in dire need right now and I’m just glad that we can do a tiny little bit to help them out,” Jackson said. “I’ve got some close friends who live down there and it’s crazy. They haven’t had to evacuate, but they can’t leave their house. All of the streets are flooded and they can’t go anywhere. It’s just crazy to think about, so this really hits close to home.”

All of the coaches say they have been inspired by how giving their students, not just their basketball players, have been this week.

“You think about all of the shirts that kids don’t wear and maybe they have some shoes that don’t fit anymore,” Flory said. “It’s been awesome to see how willing kids are to help. They’re so connected to what’s going on in the world with social media and I think they’re just really glad to be able to help other people out.”

The coaches plan on sending the care package this weekend after a full week of collecting. At Derby, Flory estimates they will have nearly 100 shirts to send and had already collected more than 10 pairs of shoes by Thursday. Jackson said he already had close to 50 shirts after a day and thinks East will meet its goal of 10 pairs of shoes.

At Northwest, Chadwick wanted to collect 30 pairs of shoes. Northwest is also hosting a perishable food drive for its home football game against Bishop Carroll on Thursday.

“I know all of us saw what happened in New Orleans with Katrina and back then we were all clueless on how to help,” Chadwick said. “But now, we know how to help and I wanted to make sure we did something for them. Even if it’s just a couple of shirts and shoes, it doesn’t have to be big. If we can give, then we give. I’ve been so excited to see our community really stepping up in a big way.”

Taylor Eldridge: 316-268-6270, @vkeldridge

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