Area schools getting new jerseys thanks to JJ Watt

Area schools getting new jerseys thanks to JJ Watt

LUDOWICI, GA (WTOC) - Holes. Stains. Faded numbers.

Lately, those have been as much a part of the Long County Middle School uniforms as the Wildcats written across the chest.

"Our kids just don't look presentable when they're in these types of uniforms," athletic director William Hadley says.

High school teams can usually afford to buy new jerseys every few years thanks to money raised from ticket sales at home games. That's not the case at most middle schools, leaving uniforms in programs like the Wildcats hanging on by a thread.

"This is from years of being in the dirt, and being quick washed with cheap detergent," says Long County coach Stevie Harrison. "Some games we go out there and we have two different jerseys on. But they're both navy blue or they're both white, so we just go with it."

Harrison coaches football, basketball, and soccer in Ludowici, so he knows all about the issues with the Wildcats' uniforms.

"We have to pump them up, and tell them they're looking good. But in the back of our minds, we're thinking, I wish we had jerseys that actually matched or fit," he says. "Sometimes, we have sixth graders that are really small wearing XXXL jerseys because that's all that we have."

It's an unfortunate situation. One that is also all too well known at Bryan County Middle School.

The football uniforms have many of the issues you would expect from years of wear and tear. The Redskins moniker on the front of the jersey is barely legible on some. The away basketball jerseys have seen better days as well. What were once white letters and numbers now have more of a pink hue.

"Just the look of the uniforms, you can tell they were here long before many of the kids were ever born," says Bryan County Middle School assistant principal and Bryan Co. High School head football coach Abram Scott.

Luckily for both schools, those uniform problems are a thing of the past. And it's all thanks to one of the NFL's best players.

Both schools received $10,000 grants from the JJ Watt Foundation that will be used to purchase new uniforms and equipment. The Houston Texans defensive end earned NFL Man of the Year honors in 2018 after raising over $37 million for Hurricane Harvey relief.

Now the Wildcats and Redskins are on the receiving end of Watt's generosity.

"[Our kids] are super pumped," Scott says. "They're super excited, and I think they're going to look really good in those new uniforms."

Harrison believes the same thing. He says the only problem Long County will have is keeping the new uniforms for on-field use only.

"They're going to love them," he laughs. "They're going to want to wear them everyday."