Youth football league seeks to recover from tornado losses

by Elsa Cooke Verbyla - Posted on May 18, 2011 - 03:25 PM

Photo: A Gloucester Knights helmet lays in the middle of debris from Page Middle School in the immediate aftermath of the April 16 tornado. Fundraising events are underway to help the program get ready for the start of the fall season.

A Gloucester Knights helmet lays in the middle of debris from Page Middle School in the immediate aftermath of the April 16 tornado. Fundraising events are underway to help the program get ready for the start of the fall season.

Even though the season opener is months away, the Red Knights and White Knights of the Gloucester Youth Football League have already suffered their biggest losses of the year.

The league, an organization that serves hundreds of young people ages 6-14, suffered losses estimated at $70,000 in the April 16 tornado that struck the county. A number of fundraising efforts are underway to help the league get back in action in time for the 2011 season.

Joe Ailstock, president of the league which practices and plays at Page Middle School, said the tornado "destroyed most if not all of GYFL’s supply and equipment that was stored in our shed at the football field." Page Middle School itself suffered many millions of dollars in damage as the F3 tornado flattened its back wing.

Uniforms, helmets, ear pads, mouth guards, field markers, down markers paint sprayer, and sound equipment, were among items stored in the shed that were either swept away or crushed by falling concrete blocks. A resident of Glen Roy in Ware Neck reported finding a piece of a helmet in her yard.

In addition to the football equipment, such important accessories as a grill, hot dog cooker, popcorn machine, nacho container and cash register—all essential items for supporting the league through sales at home games—were destroyed.