×

‘22 Strong’

Community comes together to support Sheffield girls basketball player injured in tragic car accident

Times Observer photos by Brian Hagberg Youngsville and Sheffield boys basketball players show support for Sheffield girls basketball player Alexa Whipple with their pregame warmup shirts prior to Friday’s Sheffield Sports Boosters Holiday Basketball Tournament semifinal. The shirts, which read “We are stronger together” on the front and “22 Strong” on the back, were designed by Sheffield girls assistant coach DJ Rose and will serve as both a show of support and a fundraiser for Whipple who was injured as a passenger in an automobile accident Dec. 15, 2019, that claimed two lives. The shirts will also be worn by other teams in the surrounding communities as they show their support for Whipple during her recovery.

There’s often infighting and a sense of separation between the four high school attendance areas in Warren County.

But when the chips are down, and life gets real, it’s truly amazing how all of it goes away and the communities rally around each other.

That was evident again Friday night in Sheffield when the boys’ basketball teams from both Sheffield and Youngsville high schools donned warmup shirts honoring a Sheffield girls basketball player Alexa Whipple, who was recently injured as a passenger in an automobile accident that claimed two lives.

“We wanted to do something for her,” Sheffield girls coach Tony Richards said. “We thought this was the quickest way to raise some money for her and her family.”

The shirts, which read, “We are stronger together” on the front and “22 Strong” on the back, were designed by Sheffield girls assistant coach DJ Rose.

Times Observer photos by Brian Hagberg Youngsville and Sheffield boys basketball players show support for Sheffield girls basketball player Alexa Whipple with their pregame warmup shirts prior to Friday’s Sheffield Sports Boosters Holiday Basketball Tournament semifinal. The shirts, which read “We are stronger together” on the front and “22 Strong” on the back, were designed by Sheffield girls assistant coach DJ Rose and will serve as both a show of support and a fundraiser for Whipple who was injured as a passenger in an automobile accident Dec. 15, 2019, that claimed two lives. The shirts will also be worn by other teams in the surrounding communities as they show their support for Whipple during her recovery.

The four words on the front are in the colors of each of the four area high schools. Whipple wears jersey number 22 for the Wolverines.

“I thought it was cool how he brought all the communities together,” Richards said.

Richards turned to local printer Icyy Ink to print the shirts and got an early run of 200. What’s left of the first run will be available for purchase Saturday at Sheffield High School during the second night of the Sheffield Sports Boosters Holiday Basketball Tournament, and then online.

“One hundred are already gone,” Richards said. “Once those first 200 are sold, we’ll have about $1,000 to give to the family.”

But more than just a fundraiser, Richards wanted a token for other community members to show their support as well. So he reached out to surrounding basketball teams and had a very positive response.

Times Observer photos by Brian Hagberg Youngsville and Sheffield boys basketball players show support for Sheffield girls basketball player Alexa Whipple with their pregame warmup shirts prior to Friday’s Sheffield Sports Boosters Holiday Basketball Tournament semifinal. The shirts, which read “We are stronger together” on the front and “22 Strong” on the back, were designed by Sheffield girls assistant coach DJ Rose and will serve as both a show of support and a fundraiser for Whipple who was injured as a passenger in an automobile accident Dec. 15, 2019, that claimed two lives. The shirts will also be worn by other teams in the surrounding communities as they show their support for Whipple during her recovery.

“The guys were all about it,” Youngsville boys coach Jesse DeLoof said. “It’s good when we can come together and support each other. We’re both small schools and communities and it was nice to show unity.”

“Everyone was excited about it,” Sheffield boys coach Mike Knapp added. “We had the (strip of) tape on our warmups earlier (to support her), but we wanted to do something more.”

To one particular group, the shirts had even more meaning.

“It was really important to us to do something for her,” Sheffield player Tony Richards said. “It meant a lot to me, our team and the community, and I know it made her happy.”

Additionally, coach Richards said the Kane girls, coached by former Sheffield head man Brandon Troutman, have agreed to wear the shirts when they take on the Wolverines. Also, on Feb. 1, the Youngsville boys and girls teams will have the shirts when they square off against Sheffield at Erie Insurance Arena.

“It gives us a little extra motivation,” the younger Richards said. “It reminds us that it’s not all about basketball and to give back to the community.”

The Sheffield boys team will have the shirts as part of its warmup at least through the Feb. 1 game and Richards is hopeful a certain set of eyes will get to see him with it on in action.

“We hope she can come to one of our games when she gets home,” he said.

Newsletter

Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
   

COMMENTS