How do you truly celebrate America’s favorite sport?
By bringing the people out to you — in order to celebrate a bigger cause for the communities across the Portsmouth area.
And for the second year in a row, that’s exactly what the West Portsmouth Tanks’ football program — in conjunction with Sandhill IPCC Church Pastor Gary Newman — are doing when the Tanks play host to the Columbus Gladiators on Saturday evening at 7 p.m. in what will be the season opener for the Washington Township-based semi-pro football program.
However, the contest goes much further than the game itself.
As with last year, Sandhill IPCC and the Tanks are teaming up to host a ‘Tackle Hunger Night,’ where Newman and the Tanks, behind the effort of 2017 Blue Collar Football League Defensive Coordinator of the Year Brian Wroten, are asking fans and players to donate at least two non-perishable food items to the cause.
For Newman, it was an honor to be asked to participate in such an effort once again.
“They treat us pretty decent down there (in Washington Township),” Newman said. “They try to fundraise all summer in order to give those guys a banquet at the end of the year, and we’ve been a part of that through having those inflatables. I believe that it’s a great thing to have a football team on the West Side.”
With the amount of success that Sandhill IPCC and the Tanks had together in 2017, the idea of doing the Tackle Hunger Night all over again was a no-brainer to Wroten. In fact, the sharp defensive mind was the person who reached out to Newman about doing the idea for a second year in a row.
“Brian actually contacted me,” Newman said. “I didn’t really expect that. He just said that he wanted to do it the opening day of the year. He wanted to do it, and I was all excited about it.”
And so the idea was, once again, set into motion.
Sandhill IPCC, which is based in South Shore, Ky. has a low pantry for its children who are in dire need of food. Newman, who has started a “backpack fund,” has tried to send food home with the children on Sunday mornings, but the pastor has more children in need that he and his Sandhill IPCC staff pick up as part of their bus ministry.
“Hopefully, more than anything, we’ll fill up those backpacks for the kids,” Newman said. “We’re hoping for big things. The Lord has really blessed our ministry with a lot of people who want to help and think of others before themselves.”
Last season, the First Annual version of Tackle Hunger Night raised over $1,000 worth of perishable goods. On Saturday, Newman believes that number can be equaled, especially with the help of a litany of key contributors.
“The players themselves brought snacks and things that we can use,” Newman said. “Last year, the players brought in so many of those non-perishables, and of course, Glockner’s donated corn and green beans to us, which helped us with our Thanksgiving boxes and Christmas boxes. All around, it does a whole lot. It does a great deal for us. Brian and I work so good together, and we at Sandhill appreciate them so much. Plus, we get to enjoy the football game.”
And it’s the Tanks’ want to give back that really impresses Newman. In fact, Newman is a big proponent of semi-professional football over the National Football League because of the down-to-earth nature that the players on the unit carry.
“It’s all about money with professional sports, and how much those guys can make,” Newman said. “They’re arrogant with the world and the things that they do. It turns me off. These guys here aren’t making anything, yet they’re still taking their time to play a football game, and I really enjoy that. I really enjoy them.”
In addition to watching a physical, hard-fought football contest, Newman also enjoys providing fun to the youngsters of today. The minster actually went out and bought brand-new equipment that should all the kids to “play all night” on the inflatables, which includes a bouncy house, a slide, and an obstacle course. Ticket prices are $8.00 for adults, while kids, even if they don’t bring in two perishable items, can still play on the inflatables for just $5. Veterans will also get in free by providing military I.D.
“I just went and bought a brand new generator,” Newman said. “The electric that the inflatables use up seem to blow the breakers back down, so we went and bought us a 750-watt generator this year brand new. I just got it on my truck. I just got it whirled up, started it up, and we’re ready for it now this year, so the inflatables will get to stay up.”
However, the main goal, according to Newman, is not to just help those in need — it’s about changing their lives for the better through the joy and fun that the Lord will provide them through this day.
“It’s just about being able to raise enough food and do the things that the Lord has commanded us to do,” Newman said. “We want to reach out and touch lives, and hopefully, lives are changed.”
If non-perishable items cannot be brought to the contest, money donations will also be accepted, and if individuals have non-perishable items and wish to donate but cannot attend the Gladiators-Tanks contest, contact Gary Newman at (740) 821-0766 to have the items picked up by Newman.
Reach Kevin Colley at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930 OR on Twitter @KColleyPDT