After a fire destroyed most of its equipment, Wyandanch football is rising from the ashes.
Hofstra football alumni are coming to the aid of the school in the aftermath of a fire in an equipment shed, which police are investigating as possible arson, that destroyed items such as footballs, kickoff tees, practice dummies, pylons and sideline markers. The equipment was worth around $10,000, according to Brad Gerstman, who is helping lead the fundraising effort.
Gerstman, a government relations attorney from Roslyn, played football at Hofstra with Wyandanch principal Paul Sibblies 25 years ago.
"We're going to football alums, 40 to 70 people," Gerstman said. "I think we'll raise all the money internally."
Sibblies said he expects Wyandanch to field a team next year.
"They're coming together for a great cause, to ensure that Wyandanch football remains for as long as this district is around," he said.
"I love my teammates," Sibblies said. "I love them even more at this time for what they're trying to do for children.
"[Sibblies] didn't ask for this," Gerstman said. "He's part of our family. He's such an honorable guy."
"It's a camaraderie between the guys that continues," James Scully, a teammate of Gerstman and Sibblies, said of the bonds between Hofstra football players and their desire to help Wyandanch. "When one of us is down, we come together to help him."
Gerstman was one of the leaders of a movement to save Hofstra football when the school dropped the program in 2009.
"It's a function of all the care and concern all the former Hofstra football players have for athletes at all levels of the game," Gerstman said. "If you ask, to the man, what playing at Hofstra has done for them, it's done terrific things. It's very meaningful for high school athletes. You wouldn't want them to lose an opportunity."