There’s an item on my right hand that I wear daily, I wear proudly and even today, more than 10 years after the event that resulted in me receiving this item, I get asked about it and noticed by people who see it on my finger.
I write today hoping some young men at Horn Lake High School will soon be able to have the same remembrance and get the same questions I get about this particular item and to let you know how you can help them get theirs.
On my right ring finger is a 2008 USA Hockey National Championship ring from the last of six seasons I served as broadcaster for the Omaha Lancers junior hockey team. The team, made up of some elite and talented players, some of whom are still playing in the National Hockey League today, roared through a season of 60 wins, 17 losses and five overtime/shootout losses on their way to an overtime victory in the final game of their championship playoff series. That record is part of the design on my ring.
Some of those who receive championship rings tuck them away in a case and are rarely seen in public. I tend to want to have that ring remind me each day of what a special season that was. Time has worn it down a bit, but it still proudly surrounds my ring finger each day.
Today, efforts are being made to give the 100 members of the undefeated MHSAA 6A state championship football team from Horn Lake High School their well-deserved state title rings. It’s not a given they get rings, however, and a group of boosters in Horn Lake wants to do something about that.
About $35,000 is needed to cover the cost of 100 rings to the staff and players, said Jeanette Gordon, president of the Horn Lake Touch Down Club that supports the football program.
“We just assumed that the Association (MHSAA) or the county took care of that,” Gordon said.
The Olive Branch High School boys’ basketball team discovered that when they won the 5A state championship last March. Former Quistor basketball and football player K.J. Wright, now a starting linebacker with the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks, stepped up and paid the entire cost of that team’s championship rings.
Gordon said supporters have gotten together and work is being done to raise the funds to pay for the rings and make sure each player receives one.
“We have had a group be formed of alumni and people who just want to help try to raise the money,” Gordon said. “The whole objective is that everyone gets a ring.”
Among current efforts being done is the creation of a GoFundMe account, which you can find at www.gofundme.com/horn-lake-touchdown-club-championship-ring-fund. Sales of championship T-shirts have also been made to go to the fund.
Support has also come from the Horn Lake Chamber of Commerce through an email campaign for a team Gordon said has united the community and given it a dose of pride and positive energy.
Each ring costs about $300, Gordon said, adding that some players are not able to afford buying the rings themselves. About 10 percent of the total goal has been raised in the GoFundMe account, but Gordon is confident they will reach their goal.
“I do think it is going to happen,” Gordon said. “It may not happen until April, but that’s OK, as long as it happens.”
The Horn Lake Eagles captured the hearts of all DeSoto County football fans as it brought the county its second state football championship ever and first in school history last fall, climaxed by a 31-27 state finals victory over Oak Grove of Hattiesburg Nov. 30 at Southern Miss.
The spotlight at the state and national level for the Eagles shown brightly for DeSoto County football at a level that hasn’t been seen since Olive Branch’s 6A state title in 2011.
Gordon and the Touch Down Club, a booster organization that has been existence since 2016, have been behind the Eagles all the way.
Let’s hope DeSoto County steps up and supports this team in getting that fitting reminder of how they represented their school and county on and off the playing field this fall. To steal a phrase from the school district, the Eagles really did “raise the bar.”
“It’s ultimately important for them to have this ring as a memento,” Gordon said. “They have left a legacy. Hard work pays off, they were determined that they would win that championship and that’s what they did. I think it’s very important that the community gets behind this project.”
Bob Bakken is Sports Editor for the DeSoto Times-Tribune.