Football players tackle substance abuse awareness
EASTON — The Warriors and Bulldogs met Friday, Oct. 6, on the Easton High School football field to not only tackle their opponent but to also tackle substance abuse awareness.
Under the “Friday night lights” in front of the stadium full of fans, the two teams took to the field, sporting purple socks.
At the end of game, like many, the players met in the center of the field for a quick handshake, an at-a-boy and a good game, followed by a post game prayer.
Typically the prayer is led by a player, but on this Friday night the prayer was led by Talbot County Sheriff Joe Gamble.
As the boys all took a knee, each placing a hand on one another’s shoulder, Warrior to Bulldog, they became one team, a team against substance abuse.
Gamble spoke to the players about his time playing high school and college football, and about staying focused on their futures and on God.
“I just encourage each of you, as you grow, next year, as you all start moving on, military, work, college, think about it, life gets harder, it doesn’t get easier, it gets tougher — focus him,” Gamble said. “We all have great hope for all of you, every single one of you.”
Following the talk, he led the teams in prayer and said he was honored to be there with them.
The Easton Warriors have been going purple all season in support of Talbot Goes Purple, an initiative started by Gamble and Tidewater Rotar y.
Talbot Goes Purple aims to empower youth and the community to “go purple” as a sign of taking a stand against substance abuse.
The project is based on THP Project Purple, an initiative of the Herren Project that helps people struggling with drug dependencies. Former NBA player Chris Herren founded both projects after speaking to a high school about his struggles with drug dependency.
On Sept. 18 and 19, Herren came to the area and spoke to both North Caroline and Easton high school students during a moving in-school assembly.
Substance abuse awareness and overdoses are not limited to only one area of the state; in the 2017 first quarter report from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, in Talbot County there have been 5 alcohol or drug related overdoses and in Caroline there had been 1.
Last year, Talbot and Caroline counties reported the highest numbers of opioid related deaths within the five counties.
Overall, the state recorded 1,856 opioid-related deaths in 2016, and 473 deaths for this year so far.
James McCormick, head coach of the Bulldogs, said addiction and overdoses have directly affected his team and coaches over the years.
“The whole opioid epidemic on the Mid-Shore is a big deal, it doesn’t affect this kid or that kid, it affects all kids,” McCormick said. “We have had football players that have graduated and have died from overdoses, we had staff members’ family that have died from overdoses. It is something that hits home, it affects all of us and if we can do anything to bring some light to it, I think it’s good.
North Caroline’s purple socks were purchased by Roto Rooter of Delmarva in Denton.
Jeff Farr, director of operations for the company and a parent of an Easton Warrior football player, helped facilitate the donation of the purple socks and said “My wife and I are very active in our children’s lives and we know that it takes the community to help raise the youth.”
“As a part of the Easton Athletics, especially football, I was proud to be a part of our purple kick-off last month,” Farr said. “I am mostly involved because of my children, and having a senior this year that’s part of the football program.”
Farr said it is important to him and the company he works for to not only support law enforcement and the community, but to also aid in raising awareness across the Shore.
“Our companies, RotoRooter of Delmarva and US Heating and Air, have contributed for many years to local support programs especially when it applies to our community and law enforcement,” Farr said. “We feel that it is imperative to support local community and it is extremely important to help raise awareness of the rising substance abuse issues all of our local communities are suffering from.”
“It is wonderful to show that support through youth and high school sports programs as it is those sports involve many athletes, teachers, parents, and community itself,” Farr said. “Our hope is that this awareness will help save lives and aid in the decrease of substance abuse all together.”
During the game, there was a Talbot Goes Purple table set up near the concession stand with information about the project and substance abuse. There were also T-shirts and other TGP items available for purchase.
For more information about Talbot Goes Purple or substance abuse, visit talbotgoespurple.org.
Talbot County Sheriff Joe Gamble prays with the North Caroline Bulldogs and Easton Warriors after their football game on Friday.
On Friday, Oct. 8, the Warriors from Easton High School and the North Caroline High School Bulldogs sported purple socks for substance abuse awareness.
Talbot County Sheriff Joe Gamble prays with the North Caroline Bulldogs and Easton Warriors after their football game on Friday, Oct. 8.