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Uniform crisis threatens Chiefland basketball

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By Jenna McKenna

If someone doesn't help, Chiefland basketball is in for a tough season.

Last month, the Chiefland Citizen reported a break-in at the Chiefland High School athletic department, and the theft of some uniforms and equipment. The brief report didn't begin to touch on the loss. The football and basketball programs lost, between them, almost $27,000 in vital gear.

According to an inventory compiled for the insurance claim, football lost about $1,000 in video recording and transfer equipment. They also lost pretty much all the home blue jerseys, several of the road whites, 48 pairs of game pants and 15 game balls.

As bad as that is, at least football had proper game uniforms to wear, home and away. Here's what basketball lost:

All the varsity game uniforms, home and away.

All the JV game uniforms, home and away.

All the practice suits, both varsity and JV.

All the varsity warmups, six game balls, the team's video camera and the dry-erase board Head Coach Mark Lundy uses to draw up plays during timeouts.

Pretty hard to play basketball, with no uniforms at all.

When the thefts were discovered, the first basketball game was just a month away. Lundy was stunned at the magnitude of the loss. He had been planning to buy new varsity uniforms for  $1,850, and pass the old ones down to JV. Now he'd be looking at spending twice as much just for game uniforms, plus practice suits.

Before the thefts, Indians' basketball was on the upswing. This past summer, Lundy had been able to take the team to a three-day summer camp at St. Leo University. The team benefited so much, he hoped to do it again next summer. Instead, he found himself backed into a corner.

“I was at a point where I had to make an immediate decision about the uniforms,” he said.

Lundy made the best decision he could, and bought a set of reversible practice suits for varsity, and another for JV.

“I had to at least get practice suits because some of the kids don't have shorts to wear,” he said.

As a worst case scenario, he figured, the teams could wear the practice gear in games. So far, that worst case scenario has been borne out. Chiefland played both games in Williston's Tip-Off Tournament in the practice suits. And unless a benefactor steps forward, they'll have to wear the reversibles all year, because there's no more money in the basketball budget.

“We have about $615 left,” Lundy said.

“I want to hang onto that, because I want to be able to feed the kids when we play away games. These are mostly the same kids that play football, and they're used to not having any extras, but they're good kids and I want to be able to take care of them.”

Lundy is waiting to see if an insurance claim for the missing gear will help out, but he isn't expecting much.

“Probably the only reimbursement we'll get is for the varsity game uniforms, because those are new enough (2004-2005) that we have documentation for them,” Lundy said. Because of depreciation, though, they won't get much. They won't get anything for the lost practice suits, warmups or JV uniforms, because of their age. If basketball is to wear proper game uniforms, they'll need help from the community.

Lundy has found a uniform vendor who can deliver home game suits in about three weeks from on-hand stock, and away suits shortly after. He can outfit varsity and JV with full uniform sets for about $4,000.

Lundy knows his back is against the wall on this. CHS Principal Pam Asbell and Athletic Director  Chris Wilson have done their best to help find resources, but the economy is so far down, and it's an awful time to have to ask for help.  Still, he has to try.

“The football team's loss was terrible, and I hate to say it, but I think our loss was worse,” he said.

“They left us with nothing.”

To help Chiefland boys' basketball buy uniforms, send your donation to:

CHS Basketball Uniform Replacement Fund

Chiefland High School

808 N. Main St., Chiefland, FL 32626

ATTN: Becky Tyson

Citizen Sports Editor Jenna McKenna can be reached at sports@chieflandcitizen.com.