Academy Sports and Outdoors donated $5,000 to the Newnan High School Dugout Club on Thursday in an effort to support those impacted by the March 26 tornado.
In addition, Academy, the Dugout Club and Bama Q Pitmasters provided free meals to those in the area of Newnan City Church.
The smell and smoke from grilled hamburgers filled the Newnan air on Thursday afternoon, as residents could pick up a free hamburger, chips, a bottle of water and a cookie.
Cody Reid, senior regional marketing specialist with Academy Sports and Outdoors, said the $5,000 donation will go directly to families in Newnan impacted by the tornado.
“Our store in Newnan is five miles from the impacted area, and we take a lot of privilege in being able to give back to the community,” Reid said. “We saw a need in Newnan, we reached out to Newnan High School, and their baseball facility was damaged. They also saw opportunities to give back. We were able to come up with a sizable $5,000 donation to give back.”
In the aftermath of the tornado, Newnan High’s head baseball coach, Marc Gilmore, said the team has taken things one day at a time since March 26.
“With the community and players that we have that are affected by it, we’ve tried to put baseball on the backburner, but know that it’s still important.”
“With the outpouring of love and support from Academy, businesses and people in the community, it’s been what makes Newnan special. And from across the country, too — people from all over the U.S. reached out, and not just baseball-wise.”
Gilmore said he had heard from people who had heard about the disaster on television, or had heard of Newnan, or had driven through Newnan in the past.
“The overpowering reach of humanity has been big for the last two weeks,” the coach said.
The team has still been able to play in spite of the tornado doing severe damage to the Newnan High School campus. Schools across the area have reached out to offer their facilities for the team for practice, Gilmore said.
Schools such as Northgate, East Coweta, Trinity, Heritage and even some outside of Coweta County, including Carrollton and Heard County, have helped the Newnan High team out, as well as Home Plate Baseball/Softball, a baseball complex in Peachtree City.
In fact, Gilmore said that Home Plate has even raised funds for the Newnan High team.
The team has reached out to help in their own way, offering to help replace windshields, appliances and other items lost from the tornado. Much of that assistance came from Home Plate’s fundraiser.
Gilmore said the team would be the “Road Warriors” for the rest of the year and even jokingly compared the team to the legendary 1980s pro wrestling tag team of the same name.
But even if the Newnan High team has to play away from home for the rest of the season, just getting to play at all has been a morale boost for them.
“It’s taken a lot from us, but the one thing I can say about this community, this town, this school, our athletics, is that we’ve been very resilient in every sport.”