Coach, team get behind HOPE Week
By Andrew Stark
Independence booster club president Brian Haislip had an idea he wanted to share with Patriot football coach Justin Hardin.
Haislip thought the coach would be on board, but was overwhelmed with the response Hardin gave him for Haislip’s HOPE Week idea.
“I presented it to coach Hardin and he was 100 percent behind it,” Haislip said. “He put the air in the sails and ran with it.”
HOPE stands for “Helping Others Persevere and Excel,” and the program has allowed two Mint Hill Middle School eighth-graders with special needs— Caroline Backus and Kevin Ramirez—to participate in practice all week and to lead the Patriots onto the field before they battle East Meck last Friday.
“It’s just a great message and what the week is all about for us,” Hardin said. “This is about helping others, perseverance and excelling. I’m a big fan of watching those Make a Wish segments on ESPN, and you can see the impact that children with daily challenges can have on players, coaches and everyone.” […]