AUSTIN (KXAN) — Thanks to an anonymous donation, the coaches at William B. Travis High School were able to purchase 13 brand new helmets for the varsity football team.
“Thank you so much for giving back & for making a difference in our kids lives,” the team’s social media account reads.
Players had been asking for new helmets for years. The one’s they currently use are outdated, bulky and uncomfortable.
“They are hand-me-downs. It’s three or four year old equipment that we use,” said senior defensive end, Jaylen Crayton. “It’s just a morale boost. I’m excited.”
Head Coach Joe Frank Martinez said he’s had to let the team down year after year.
“I was like guys, there’s not enough money. We cannot afford these helmets,” Martinez said.
Martinez, who has coached at the high school for 16 years, said the school struggles financially. That means athletics, fine arts and other extracurricular activities suffer.
“It’s not just Travis in particular. There are other schools in AISD that are in the same situation,” Martinez said.
Martinez said a man from West Lake, who wished to remain anonymous, came to the school with a $5000 check and demanded his gift be used for one thing: new athletic equipment. Martinez said he knew exactly what he would use it for.
“I called the guy from Ridell and said, ‘how many helmets can I get for $5,000?’ And he said, ‘what?’ And I said, “yeah! we got a donation,” Martinez recalled. “It brought a tear to my eye just to see how excited they were to get those helmets.”
It’s typical for Title I schools like Travis High in south Austin to have a lack of resources. Nearly 80 percent of the student body is economically disadvantaged.
Brenda Rodriguez, a teaching assistant at the high school and a former booster board member, said the football team has also operated without a booster club for the past two years, which generally is in charge of fundraising for new athletic equipment and game time preparations.
She said the coaches now have to take on that responsibility due to a lack of parent involvement.
To put this disadvantage in perspective, Lake Travis’ Athletic Booster Club had a total revenue of more than $500,000, according to tax filings from 2015. Almost 90 percent of that came from contributions.
That same year, Westlake saw a revenue of more than $650,000.
Rodriguez called this $5,000 donation to Travis High “overwhelming.”
“The love and support of someone reaching out to a Title I school and our kids, I think these kids are well deserved. I was ecstatic that it happened,” Rodriguez said.
Martinez said he hopes his team can use this positive momentum and translate it to the field and out into their community.
“We have a duty to do that, to make this world a much better place. And that’s what we preach to our kids everyday,” Martinez said. “Make sure we are grateful for this. Appreciate what we have. And now let’s go do something nice for someone else.”
On KXAN News at 9:00 and 10:00 p.m., Alex Caprariello will show off the new helmets and hear the reaction from the team.