By: Ben Ford
During July of 2018, 18 players showed up for tryouts for Park View varsity football. On August 21st, the day that was supposed to be their first game, the stands in the Park view stadium were empty and there wasn’t a player in sight on the field.
“It was a huge loss for the community,” Steven Rose, a Park View football player.
Due to lack in numbers and fear for player safety, the Park View Varsity football team was cancelled during the 2018-19 season. The lack of experienced players meant a higher risk of injury and a significant skill gap between Park View and opposing schools.
“The team just wasn’t the same,” team member Steven Rose said.
The younger athletes were added to the JV team, while the seniors who still wanted to play were given the option to transfer schools. This had a huge impact on attendance to games for all sports, because there was a significant drop in students coming to support the school. The school felt disheartened, until Hilarie Burton came to help.
“I remember I had my first kiss here at Park View, I remember being asked to homecoming at those bleachers. Those are the moments I care about; winning and losing, I don’t care about,” Burton said.
Hilarie Burton, a class of 2000 Park View alum, returned to Park View High School during the school’s fall pep rally on August 31st, 2018. She had heard about how Park View had no varsity team and took action almost immediately, offering to pay for football camp for everyone trying out for Football during the 2019-20 season.
Burton’s involvement led to various other companies and communities coming to help out. Recently, she raised $15,165 for the program, set up an alumni association called Project Patriot, and partnered with Nike to make cleats themed for the team. She plans to continue helping Park View into the future.
“We can get members of the community involved, whether that’s former football team members coming back to give tips in the weight room, or equipment,” said Burton. “I want our team to be on par with all the other teams in the county and have the same luxuries and wealth.
Burton’s help galvanized various other people to come and help. Cary Grossart from the NFL Players Association came into help as well. The NFLPA donated $10,000 to help the team, and plans to help into the foreseeable future
“Hilarie was definitely a part of why we came,” Grossart stated. “We hope the donation will be a recharge for the program but also help sustain it.”
Josh Wild, the Park View High School Football coach, hopes that the program will push forward and strengthen in the future, but even with this help, the team is still recovering from last year, with slightly less attendance to practices
“Our attendance overall has increased, we learned to be a little more flexible, we know we have some guys who work,” said Wild.
The football players have noticed the changes that stem from Burton’s involvement. The team has been rejuvenated and fired up, with an increase players and what they bring to the field.
“She put the fire back into our team. A lot of the kids came out just because she was supporting our team,” said senior Zechariah Hendi.
Burton’s actions also led to increased attendance, and sent a message to the community, a message saying that Park View was back and ready to play.
“Yeah, she definitely helped get the word out there and got everyone’s attention that were back and ready to do this,” said senior Steven Rose.