BLACK RIVER FALLS, Wis. (WEAU) – The Black River Falls team not only started the season with a new head coach, but also with a surprising new look.
Head coach Adam Yirkovsky said the team’s helmets had been neglected for years and were in dire need of repair.
The helmets were sent out in the spring, with them expected to return by mid-July, but delays in the process prevented them from being returned to Black River Falls.
Despite not having any helmets for his team to use, Yirkovsky is determined to keep the Tigers on schedule.
“Pushing back practice was never on my mind, as a first-year head coach, I wanted the ball to roll,” Yirkovsky said. “We created a lot of pre-season excitement with the offseason and the kids were excited to try and change the culture here.”
Seniors like Brent Bue played an important role in building that new culture, as Bue and his classmates managed to keep the team focused even without helmets. to start the season.
“As an older person, we had to be role models for the younger kids to show that we would eventually get helmets,” recalls Bue. “We’ll play no matter what, we’ll do what we do on the pitch no matter what.”
To get the tigers to the training ground, Yirkovsky and sporting director Andy Osegard called for help.
“We basically reached out to any school that we knew might have extra helmets,” explains Yirkovsky. “That includes Wautoma High School, St. Croix Central, and then Ellsworth, our script opponent for Friday.”
Those schools and others responded by providing the entire team with well-fitting helmets, which came as a shock to senior Evan Voss.
“I was really surprised to learn that the helmets were coming from other schools,” Voss said. “It’s a great thing they’ve stepped up to, and it’s something that I feel like Black River Falls would have done if another school had contacted us.”
Yirkovsky hopes the helmet hardships experienced will resonate with his freshman campaign as head coach.
“We’ve faced adversity this year, so there really aren’t any other challenges these kids have to fear in the off-season,” Yirkovsky added.
The Tigers are hoping to put on their helmets back in time for the season opener, which takes place on August 19 against Nekoosa.
If needed, Yirkovsky said Black River Falls has enough black helmets with black masks for use at the moment.
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