The Raines Vikings 4A Football Champions are still celebrating their December victory over the Cocoa Tigers. The back-to-back 4A state championships is a first for any Jacksonville public high school. This time, the honor came with a with a special gift from community philanthropists to go towards buying championship rings.
Championship rings for the players costs tens of thousands of dollars, something neither the players nor the school could afford.
“It’s a very difficult thing to do in terms of getting money and having these kids be responsible for their own rings and jackets so we always try to find a way to get support and help because we understand the situation,” head coach Deran Wiley said.
The football program was presented a $17,000 check from the Chestnut Law Firm which will go towards championship rings and scholarships. An additional $5,000 check was given by Monique Ross and the L Monique Foundation. A portion will go toward the cost of the championship rings, with the rest going to a cheer and dance scholarship fund.
“This is a monumental, first-of-its-kind achievement for this amazing football team,” said Christopher Chestnut with Chestnut Law Firm.
“The players, coaches and support staff deserve to be recognized for the excitement they’ve brought to their school and the Jacksonville community.”
Senior players like Nigel Allen and James Hall say they strive to bring positivity to their neighborhood.
“People say Raines is a bad place and a bad neighborhood, but even though the bad, there’s light. When the light shines, it’s great to come out here and be a part of that light and positivity; no negativity,” Allen said. “Getting a ring is an achievement. No matter what anybody says about your high school or neighborhood, all you have to do is pull out the ring and say, ‘This is what I got from this neighborhood, from this school,’ and I can do anything with it.”
Following the ceremony, the players and coaches flooded Chestnut and Ross with hugs and handshakes before returning to class. The coaches will order the rings and are planning to hold a championship ring ceremony sometime in April.