Sharks spend bye week providing earthquake relief

When Mark Fischer left Louisa High in Mineral, Va., to become the new football coach at St. James earlier this year, he always planned to go back and visit. But not this soon, and not under these circumstances.

On Aug. 23, a magnitude 5.8 earthquake was centered in his former hometown, causing massive destruction to the community and the high school.

Since the Sharks had a bye week on their schedule, Fischer decided to go back and do what he could to assist. To his surprise, his new team volunteered to join him.

The Sharks loaded into a bus for the long road trip and spent two days repairing damage to homes and buildings and distributing supplies to town residents.

The St. James squad also assisted with helping at the high school, which has been closed for repairs. The students are going to another school in portables.

The Sharks also got to take in Louisa’s football game against Courtland High. Fischer’s former team won 32-13 and celebrated with the Sharks after the game.

The St. James community also rallied around the relief effort, donating gift cards to home-improvement stores so strangers could afford to rebuild their homes.

The coach said his players got more from the experience than anything they could on the football field, and players said the experience put things in perspective.

Losing a football game is one thing; losing a loved one or home is another. By helping those in need, the Sharks came home a tighter and wiser group.

“This is just another great example of how the athletic department of St. James High School continues to groom young men and women on and off the field, “ St. James athletics director Paula Lee said.

The Sharks won’t get much time to recover from their trip before returning to the gridiron Friday against Hemingway, but they’ll do so richer for the experience.

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