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Locals come through for their team

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By Jenna McKenna

The uniforms are on their way.

Two weeks ago, the Citizen reported on the plight of the Chiefland boys' basketball program, which had lost all its home, away and practice uniforms in a break-in. Basketballs and video recording equipment were also taken, but the uniforms were the biggest problem.

On reading the appeal, several local readers took action. At press time, Chiefland's Basketball Uniform Replacement Fund had received about $4,900 in donations, enough for Head Coach Mark Lundy to order uniforms.

On Monday, Lundy accepted a donation of $2,000 from SunState Federal Credit Union in Chiefland. Robert Hart, Vice President of Marketing, and Kim Maxwell, Chiefland Branch Manager, presented Lundy with the check.

“High school sports programs are an extension of the community,” Hart said. “The basketball players are representing Chiefland, here at home and when they travel to other cities. If they go into the gym and they don't look good, Chiefland doesn't look good either.”

Maxwell, who played high school basketball herself, agreed wholeheartedly.

“This was just the right time for us and for the kids, and we're happy we were able to step up.”

Lundy said the basketball season was shrouded in uncertainty when he discovered the players had no uniforms left at all after the break-in. Administrators at the Levy County School Board district office stepped in then, giving Lundy enough money to buy practice uniforms and balls.

“The $2,500 given us by the district office made it possible for Chiefland to be able to play this year,” Lundy said.

“It says a lot about our administrators and district staff at the Levy County School Board offices that, with no questions asked, I was able to order what I needed immediately. That incredible generosity was what made it possible for us to even have a basketball season.”

But while practice uniforms made it possible for kids to practice and play, they don't transition well to the competition floor.

“I couldn't stand the thought of our Chiefland boys walking into some other school's gym with those practice suits on,” said Hart.

“They'd look like stepchildren.”

Apparently others in Chiefland felt the same way. In addition to the school district's season-saving $2,500 and SunState's incredibly generous $2,000, several individuals contacted Lundy and the Citizen about donating.

“I received checks from Richard and Nancy Stone of Stone's BP and Dr. and Mrs. Bill Williams and have heard from other kind folks in the community who want to help us out, going forward,” Lundy said.

The CHS cheerleaders and their sponsor Melody Irizarry have also contributed $100 to the program, which Lundy will use for the teams other expenses, such as meals. Next year, he hopes to go back to purchasing game shoes for the team. There is also all that video equipment and some more balls to replace.

Chiefland varsity will play in home whites the rest of the season, starting at Bronson's Holiday Classic.

Lundy said he was lucky to find a uniform vendor that could deliver a set of home suits in three weeks. Typically, it takes several months to deliver full sets of high-grade, fully customized home and away sets, like the ones Chiefland will get in time for next season. Varsity will then hand down the home whites to JV, and the world will get a little closer to normal for Chiefland basketball.