Local high school football coach taking care of his players on and off the field

Sports

KEARNS, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – Utah’s high school football playoffs kick off on October 22nd. For Matt Rickards, the head coach at Kearns, his team will be hosting Fremont High School and he hopes this years playoffs go better than last year.

Last year’s Kearns team was ready to compete but they didn’t get a chance to play in the post season. Some of the players tested positive for Covid-19 and the team had to pull out of the post season.

“We were faced with adversity and we teach the kids to deal with adversity and unfortunately that was the adversity that was given to us,” said Rickards. We had to learn from it and adapt and adjust.”

The team is also dealing with adversity off the field.

At practice, coach Rickards fills his players head with football but he also wants to make sure that his players and their families fill their stomachs with food.

“We’ve got kids who go the whole day without eating and they’ll go to practice or training and they have eaten anything and it’s always bugged me,” Rickards said.

So this summer he decided to do something about it.

“My wife brought it up to one of her clients as they were talking and he said he does stuff with the Utah Food Bank and he would be willing to bring food to us,” said Rickards. “So since then he’s been dropping off food on Thursdays and Saturdays. We’ll stack as much as we can in the fridge and hand it out to the kids.”

The food is not just for the kids, they’re free to take some home to their families.

“Some of those kids have a large amount of people in their household, so we want to make sure everyone is getting enough food,” said Rickards.

The deliveries include hamburgers and sausage, eggs, canned good, pasta, whatever they need.

“I think some of the kids are taking it and know its a blessing and there are some kids who don’t realize the importance of it and we push it on them,” Rickards said. “And say no, you’re taking it, and some kids are prideful and don’t think they need it.”

Most of these kids won’t play football again after they leave high school but the help they receive and the lessons coach Rickards teaches them, will last a lifetime.

Most of the time they won’t remember the scores, but they remember the relationships they had with the coaches and players and things like this, where we have freedom to come get some food,” said Rickards. “A kid comes up to me at lunch and says hey coach I didn’t get enough lunch, and I say, hey, lets go grab something to eat. We want to give them a good experience and give them skills that they can utilize later on in life but also these experiences that are going to stick with them.”

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