Rifle boys become ringmasters
RIFLE – The Rifle High School cafeteria was all aglitter Friday morning as the players and coaches who won the Division 3A football state championship slid brand-new gold championship rings onto their fingers, many vowing never to take them off.The rings for the Bears’ 36 players and seven coaches cost a total of almost $17,000, and no one wearing one paid a penny. Local businesses paid for the rings in full with donations solicited by Leonard Hedberg, who owns Hy-Way Feed & Ranch Supply in Silt and whose son, Colter, is a senior on the team.”This was awesome,” said Pam LaCount, whose son, Zach, a senior, played on the team. “It really shows the support the community has for the football team.”Some parents and most of the boys on the team collected their rings at the breakfast Friday morning. Coach Darrel Gorham said some of the boys couldn’t make it Friday morning because they were in Denver for the state wrestling championship. One of the parents offered to take the rings down to them later that day.”We’ve been waiting for this day, it seems like forever,” said junior Josh Gustad, who is a linebacker and running back.”I’m gonna wear it all the time,” said junior linebacker Bobby Beavers.Gorham said the big, heavy championship ring is his first.”I’m sure I’ll take it off,” Gorham said, “but not very often.”The coaches and some of the players had the team’s theme, “It’s time,” engraved on the ring. Gorham said the coaches decided on the theme over the summer because they thought it was time for a really successful season.”It’s ironic that it happened that way,” Gorham said.The scores of all the games the team played are listed on the side of the ring, which the players designed together.The scores are significant, Gorham said, “because we were the underdog in every game we played.”All the players and seven coaches ordered rings, even before they knew the community would pay for them.”Oh, I wanted him to have it,” said Elaine Spike, mother of senior Rick Spike. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Once in their lifetimes. Once in my lifetime.”Raising enough money to pay for all of the rings was a surprise even to Hedberg, who said he hadn’t expected efforts to start off as well as they did, with thousands of dollars pouring in. He said it only became difficult near the end when smaller businesses could only offer smaller donations.”It takes a lot of folks to make that work,” Hedberg said. “A lot of very good-hearted people donated.”
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