Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there to support the Sand Springs football community.
State Farm agent Eric Davidson presented a $10,000 check to the Sand Springs Youth Football Association on Friday morning at Memorial Stadium as part of the company’s community grant program.
Davidson was one of 100 agents across the country who was recognized for his community involvement and was selected to submit a grant for a community program of his choosing.
State Farm representative John Burnett said the company takes “a look at what’s taking place in the community, the agent’s involvement with the community, and the program that the grant is focused on.”
The Sand Springs Youth Football Association “is overwhelmed by this gracious donation,” Director Dustin Little said. “We want to thank Eric Davidson for his constant support of youth sports in our community, at all levels, both as a coach and through his philanthropy.
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“Eric has coached for us since 2014, both with basketball and football, and we’ve enjoyed watching his two sons grow and develop through the years.”
For Davidson, the program is less about the sport and more about the life lessons it teaches.
“There’s so many kids out there that need guidance,” he said. “They need direction, and coaching is one of the best ways to be involved in that.
“To me there’s not a whole lot better than being able to coach some kids and hopefully leave them better off than when you started.“
The funds will cover the cost of 87 sets of shoulder pads and 19 new helmets for the organization, which has 226 players in first through seventh grades. The association also has a cheer program, bringing its enrollment to 400-plus.
“We agreed to use this donation for a specific purpose, and that’s to ensure the safety of our Sand Springs kids in playing the sport they love,” Little said. “We try to replenish our equipment every year. We’re one of only a few clubs left that still provide the equipment for the kids.
“With our demographics, it would be very challenging to tell parents they have to go out and buy this equipment.”
The organization charges parents $200-$250 per season, depending on when they register. It’s not uncommon to spend more than that on shoulder pads and helmets alone.
Having a feeder program such as the Sand Springs Youth Football Association has been crucial to the success of Sandite football, varsity head coach Bobby Klinck said.
“It’s the lifeblood of any high school program,” he said. “It’s really the front door to what I consider one of the best sports, if not the best sport, to play. So it’s vital.
“It’s been great ever since I got here,” said Klinck, who is entering his third season at the helm.
Klinck also praised organizations such as State Farm for supporting both the youth and prep programs.
“Football can be a major cog in raising young men and teaching them life lessons,” he said. “So it’s a huge deal, and this community has been nothing but giving. Anything I’ve ever asked for, they’ve found a way to get it done. In my opinion, this is one of the best communities I’ve ever been a part of.”
Davidson’s oldest son, Brighton, will be a freshman on Klinck’s team this year, and his youngest, Kingston, will be in the seventh grade.
“From a life lessons standpoint, it’s kind of hard to put into words” how special it is “watching them grow into young men,” he said.
“It’s been a truly rewarding experience. That’s why I chose to partner with Dustin and do this.”