NEW ROCHELLE, NY — Unable to hold a traditional “ring” ceremony for members of the 2019 New Rochelle High School Football team for winning the New York State AA Football Championship, coaches took to the streets to personally deliver NY State Football Championship rings to members of the the undefeated 2019 Division A Championship team.
The car caravan of coaches at New Rochelle High School and Director of Athletics Steve Young, escorted by New Rochelle Police and Firefighters, left New Rochelle High School about 1 pm and stopped at each of the players’ homes. The procession began with stops at the homes of Team Captain Calvin Jackson, players Corey Barron, and Raymond Dixson.
Last fall, the athletes blazed their way to the Carrier Dome in Syracuse at the conclusion of an undefeated season and brought the state trophy home to a jubilant city. In a normal year, that would have led to a Springtime ceremony when the rings came in.
But this is no normal year. The COVID-19 crisis has imposed social distance practices that rules out large gatherings so the coaches and Young delivered the rings one at a time.
“They earned this,” Young said. “We needed to honor their accomplishment.”
Some had suggested waiting until social distance rules are relaxed but the coaching staff was adamant that seniors especially should have their moment while the 2019-20 school year is still officially underway.
“We didn’t want to wait,” said head coach Ray Rhett, “we wanted to brighten everyone’s day: the players, their families, everyone.”
So that’s what they did.
Candace Copeland, one of the organizers and mother of team MVP Darren Kabba, says the ring procession helps ease the pain of what was lost this school year. “He didn’t have a prom, there was no senior trip,” she lamented. “All that got taken from them, so we decided to take this opportunity and give them something special.”
Team co-captain Calvin Jackson seemed stunned when the procession arrived at his family’s home just before 1 p.m. “I looked out the window and I saw the cars and said ‘wow’, this is pretty surreal.” He stared at the giant glittering ring on his right hand with disbelief and the New Rochelle fire truck whooped its siren and the procession headed off on a long afternoon stops. It was a big job: 38 players receive rings.
The rings represent the third NY State Championship for the New Rochelle High School football program. Amid the celebration, quiet preparations are being made for 2020-21 season. Assistant Coach Greg Foster says they are already doing virtual training with members of next year’s team. “We are telling them to have faith,” he said. “This has been a team that prevails in the face of adversity.”