(NEW YORK) — Amid all the death and destruction seen in Lahaina following last month’s wildfires, one group of student-athletes is pushing forward to give the community hope.
The Lahainaluna High School football team practiced for the first time since the fires struck and the players were eager to get back in the game.
The team’s school and field were destroyed during the blaze last month, and many of the players’ homes were also damaged. Still, the players traveled more than an hour to Kihei for the practice.
Mauaalina Montgomery, a 16-year-old player who is on the team along with his brother, told ABC News that playing helped to get his mind off all of the struggles his family has faced, including losing their home.
“We’re playing for them, all the Lahaina people. It feels good to play for them,” he said. “Because we all lost something.”
Dean Rickard, the team’s co-head coach, told ABC News that there was a lot of concern from the players on whether or not their season would be over or if the entire team would be together.
MORE: Video Lahaina high school football team reunites in wake of wildfires
The team worked with parents to come up with a modified schedule and found a place to practice.
“There were options being thrown around where they could enroll at other schools if they intended to play sports, but for them, it wasn’t an option because they couldn’t see themselves wearing any other color than red,” Rickard said.
Tamara Montgomery, Mauaalina’s mother, told ABC News she was proud that the team was able to come together and give the community something to look forward to in the coming weeks as people continue to pick up the pieces.
“In Lahaina, our community, it’s all about the kids — whether it’s football, basketball, baseball, we HUI together — or come together as one to support,” she said. “And for Lahaina, our football team plays a huge role in that.”
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