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Raleigh Egypt High School students overcome challenges, fund raise for soccer uniforms

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- At Raleigh Egypt High School, the boys' soccer team is fund raising to buy new uniforms, since the school doesn't have enough money to buy them and students can't afford the price tag.

“Everybody doesn’t have the money to pay. It’s difficult for everybody to afford a uniform," junior Ricardo Rivas said.

"Being in such a low socioeconomic background with our student athletes, a lot of these houses have boarded up windows," Principal Bo Griffin said. "I have students who live there. There’s a reason why they charge their phone at school. They don’t have electricity some of them. We attack that problem every day."

Uniforms are one of many expenses that Raleigh Egypt High School students struggle to be able to have.

"Usually the parents [pay for it] or it's fundraising," Griffin said. "We don’t have a lot of parental involvement. A lot of our parents are working two jobs just to pay the bills. They're great parents but there's only 24 hours in the day. We tell our kids, 'family takes care of family.' We feed them before and after games."

Griffin said the school got about $14,000 from the Shelby County Interscholastic Athletic Association this year. But they used all of that to equip the middle school football team.

He said outfitting one football player cost $800.

Other costs like uniforms, travel and even team physicals often fall on students and their families.

"We even get someone to come out and give them free physicals for athletics because they cant afford $85 for a physical," Griffin said.

When the boys team needed new uniforms in 2017, school officials suggested they use uniforms they already had.

“They were expecting them to share with the girls and that wasn’t working because size-wise it wouldn't out,” coach Madeline Spolin said.

So, Spolin turned to Go Fund Me. They’re close to their goal for uniforms. But she knows, there’s always more they need.

Spolin said she has already spent $500 out of her own pocket on food and gas for the students.

"My first year, we couldn’t afford buses. Another challenge is the kids don’t have access to reliable transportation," she said.

But in the end, they said the kids’ pride in their team makes it worth it.

"I just think about how much I loved playing soccer. I played in college and it took me far in life. I really believe in giving that opportunity to others. If I can pay it forward and give that opportunity to kids, it's super meaningful," Spolin said.

"It's taught me how to work together as a team, communicate better with other people," senior Emmanuel Garcia said.

If you'd like to help, visit the fund raising page or call Raleigh Egypt High School at 901-416-4141. Griffin said he hoped more businesses would volunteer to donate and help the student athletes.