NAUGATUCK, W.Va. — Tug Valley Head Coach Hady Ford laughs he’d love to know what a “normal” football season is like. The third year head coach of the Panthers said every year has presented an obstacle and 2021 will be no different.
“The first year it was just trying to convince the players we could win. Last year it was Covid and this year it’s a flood, so I’d love to know what it’s like to have a normal year,” the coach laughed in a recent conversation with MetroNews.
The flood water of late February and early March caused major damage to the entire football complex. All equipment was destroyed and had to be tossed out. The field house had to be gutted back to the studs and all concession stand supplies and equipment were destroyed as well.
“It pretty much destroyed everything we had. Everything to do with football, we had to get out of here including lockers and the concession stand. It’s been a lot of work,” he explained.
As the first practices of the the season get started, Ford said he and his staff have managed to get everything cleaned up, but getting things replaced has been a struggle.
“Covid has pushed everything back where I think we’re going to have stuff before the first game, but some of our uniforms and jerseys aren’t in yet,” he said.
He faces similar difficulties with equipment. As practice starts he isn’t sure he’ll have enough helmets for every player. Even getting enough footballs to start practice is a struggle. Ford said he’s been told the factory which produces the Spalding footballs approved by the West Virginia SSAC for competition is idle and getting the official ball isn’t possible for the moment. All of the Tug Valley balls floated away in March. Ford said he had a couple squirreled away in an area which didn’t get flooded and a coaching friend managed to get him two more.
“We have four new ones, but you know you always want to have a few more,” he said.
The shortage of building materials nationwide has been well documented and it has impacted the Tug Valley program as well.
“We have metal lockers to put back in, but they have been pushed back. They were supposed to be in by the first week in August, now they’re saying maybe by the first game. It’s everything. We’re getting a new press box, but the new one has been sitting out here for about three weeks waiting on metal from Florida to put the stands on. We may or may not have it by the first game,” Ford said.