North Summit Braves football team rolls up sleeves for equipment funding |

North Summit Braves football team rolls up sleeves for equipment funding

As winter turned to spring, it was clear to Waldorf Astoria management that the Park City hotel needed to add new mulch to its grounds. The high-altitude solar radiation had turned the bark chips gray. Instead of hiring a landscaping company to do it, Kerry Hing, general manager of the Waldorf Astoria, said management came up with a better idea: trade a high school football team funding for labor.

“What if we bring in the bark, bring in the BBQ, we’ll bring cold drinks, (the football team) can bring in moms and dads and volunteers and our (landscaping) team will help out,” Hing said. “We will make a good contribution to your program and in exchange the students work hard, have fun, contribute, and it’s a great end result.”

So on Monday, the North Summit Braves football team hovered around Park City Waldorf Astoria’s grounds like purple-clad worker bees, shoveling mulch over the flowerbeds. In return for laying an estimated 100 cubic yards of mulch, the football team will receive $10,000 to use as it sees fit, which, according to coach Gary Crittenden, means helmets and jerseys.

“For us, this is huge,” Crittenden said. “This will give us everything we need and a few ‘wants’ as well.”

According to athletic director Devin Smith, the team’s budget ranges between $5,000 and $10,000 annually, depending on its needs and funds raised, which covers helmets, pads, jerseys and other equipment.

Crittenden said the windfall will likely allow the team to purchase 10 to 15 new helmets, which cost between $400 and $500 each, as well as new jerseys and footballs carrying a North Summit insignia.

The team rotates through helmets, with seniors getting newer models and underclassmen getting older ones, and it cycles used helmets out every three to four years. Crittenden said the money will speed that progression, replacing helmets further down the rotation so some underclassmen will be equipped with new helmets as well.

Hing said the project, which was the first of its kind for the Park City hotel, was a win-win for the company, allowing the hotel to give back to the community and re-mulch its flower beds simultaneously.

“We’re a business,” Hing said. “We were looking at the overall cost, and you get to just having conversations about, ‘Well it’s going to cost this much to do the project, and we could easily have a professional landscaping company do it,’ but in the same conversation we’re talking about community.”

The Waldorf Astoria contacted North Summit with the proposal a few months ago, and Smith said the school eagerly accepted.

Crittenden then asked the team to come help with the project.

“I didn’t know that we would get this many (athletes),” he said. “When they give you ‘Yeah, I’m going to try and be there,’ well, trying to be there and being there is two different things.”

Crittenden said it was a pleasant surprise to see the school bus’s seats filled.

At 10 a.m. Quinn Chappel, a rising senior running back, stood with his shovel on one of the flower beds the athletes were covering, waiting for more mulch to arrive. The students had gone through the first trailer of mulch and were waiting for a second load.

Chappel and his teammate, Brennen Richins, both said the volunteer work wasn’t a bad way to spend the day, though at the rate they were going it wouldn’t be a full day before the work was done, or even the whole of the scheduled 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. shift.

In return for their work, Chappel was hoping for new jerseys, while Richins, a lineman, was hoping for new shoulder pads.

“They’re not too bad,” Richins, a rising senior, said of the team’s current pads. “A newer design would be nicer. They’re old but they’re still nice.”

As for the team’s work pace, Crittenden said the team was energized by a pep talk from their teammate, sophomore Carter Mathason, which emphasized working quickly enough to leave time for fishing.

“It’s worked so far; we blew through the mulch they had pretty quick,” Crittenden said.

Hing said while the hotel doesn’t have to lay down new mulch each year, there are plenty of opportunities for future partnerships between schools and the hotel.

“I would love to have them come out and continue helping out every year,” he said. “Why not? There’s always something to be done.”

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