The Harnett County Hurricanes carried on with this week’s free Summer Football Explosion Camp, but some pretty noticeable items were missing: helmets and pads.
Last weekend, the Hurricanes’ trailer parked at 745 Irene Roberts Road near the old Shawtown School — a football field with no bleachers and two skinny poles held together by a strap for a goalpost — was stolen, with helmets and pads as well as cleats, jerseys, water coolers and an electronic scoreboard all inside. Hurricanes coach David McAllister estimated it’ll take $5,000 to $6,000 to replace all of the gear and equipment.
“It’s scary right now,” McAllister said. “This is devastating, like a natural disaster. It’s hard to believe that someone would do something like this. These are good kids. They don’t deserve this.”
The Hurricanes are an AAU program with five teams made up of kids 6 to 14 years old. They’ve been around since 2014, and last year had more than 120 players participate.
The Hurricanes travel all over the state and went as far as Rockingham and High Point for in-state competitions. And the 14-and-under team has been to AAU Nationals in Florida multiple times, a trip that the kids loved according to McAllister.
McAllister believes the Hurricanes program has helped a lot of kids, not only in football, but in life.
“Our goal is not only to teach kids the X’s and O’s of the game, but also the discipline and the responsibility it takes to be successful both on and off the field,” McAllister said. “Football gives these kids a focus, something fun they can do that’ll keep them off the streets. There’s no doubt in my mind that we’ve made our community a better place.”
McAllister is hopeful that they’ll be able to replace all of the equipment they need before the start of the season. But it’s possible that they may have to shut down for a season.
“I really hope it doesn’t come to that,” McAllister said. “These kids all work really hard and they love playing. I’d hate for them to miss out on a year because of something like this.”
The Harnett County Sheriff’s Office is currently working to find the stolen trailer, which is a faded blackish-gray color, with a replaced panel that is white, and a missing side cover over one of the wheels. There was an uptick of trailer thefts in the area dating back to last year, but Lt. Brad Stevens of the sheriff’s office said it’s unlikely that the thefts are connected, and he thinks it’s possible the thief in this instance knew what was in the trailer.
“Unfortunately, this trailer may have been specially targeted because of what was in it,” Stevens said. “It’s an older, enclosed trailer, and don’t get me wrong, they’re useful, but for a trailer in a secluded area like that, I just kind of have a feeling that whoever took it knew what was in it.”
In the meantime, the Hurricanes are trying to raise money to help replace the stolen gear in time for the upcoming season, with the first game scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 6. The team has started a GoFundMe (“Harnett County Hurricanes AAU Football”) with a goal of $5,000. They’re also accepting monetary donations through First Bank (payments can be mailed to P.O. Box 403, Lillington, NC 27546) and Cash App ($hchurricanes).
“All of the coaches and parents are working to scrape together as much as we can, but any help that we can get would be very appreciated,” McAllister said. “I hope that we can bounce back from this and get these kids back on the field.”