Red Bank wrestling coach Ben Reichel, his assistant Dickie Brown and the four Lions who qualified are going to the state tournament Thursday through Saturday in Franklin, Tenn.
Reichel was in a quandary earlier this week, though, about how they were going to make it financially because the program is still paying off a $3,000 debt he inherited when he took the job.
He posted a notice on Internet site CoachT.com, saying that he needed to raise $1,000 so the team could attend the tournament. That was figuring only two nights of lodging, Thursday and Friday.
The note he posted reads:
"The Red Bank Wrestling Team is asking for YOUR help.
"Those not familiar with the Red Bank area in Chattanooga, TN, in the past 7 years, there have been major demographical changes. Currently 74% of the middle school students are on free or reduced lunch. High School enrollment has dropped from 1600 just 4 or 5 years ago to just under 720 today.
"Unfortunately this directly affects all athletic programs. Hamilton County Schools provide ZERO funding for athletic activities as each sport is required to raise their own money. This includes everything from uniforms, to transportation, to entry fees.
"This past weekend Red Bank High School qualified 4 wrestlers to this year's state tournament in Franklin, TN.
"They are Chris Palacio, 103lb SO 2nd place, Zach Sharp, 140 lb SO 3rd place, Logan Sharp, 145 JR, 1st place and Delvonte Colvin, 189lb SR, 4th place.
"Based upon last year's tournament, we are expecting to incur a cost of approximately $1,000 for these student athletes to participate in this years state tournament.
"If you would be interested in sponsoring one of these student athletes, please let me know. All donations will go directly to funding these individuals and are tax deductable. Please let me know."
Thank you for caring,
Head Wrestling Coach, Red Bank High School
email@example.com or 423-432-2514"
Reichel was astounded and overwhelmed by the responses he got, and he had the required funds less than 24 hours later.
"I went from being discouraged to encouraged," he said. "Wrestling really does create a family."
Reichel got contributions from faculty members at Red Bank, competitors' parents, referees, opposing coaches, fans and even table workers.
"I had at least 10 offers from families living in the Franklin area willing to put the guys up," he said. "And one guy called and asked me how much we had raised. I told him and he said to come by the office and he'd make up the difference. The only request he made was that no one know what he had done.
"There really are many people out there who care."
Ward Gossett is an assistant sports editor and writer for the Times Free Press. Ward has a long history in Chattanooga journalism. He actually wrote a bylined story for the Chattanooga News-Free Press as a third-grader. He Began working part-time there in 1968 and was hired full time in 1970. Ward now covers high school athletics, primarily football, wrestling and baseball and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling. Over a 40-year career, he has covered ...