Haiti is a country ravaged by poverty, violence and disease. It’s a place where food, clean water and medicine are scarce — and that was the case even before the earthquake hit.
Most people there go without basic necessities, so shoes and socks are often an afterthought, especially for children.
Right now, thousands of kids are walking barefoot through the rubble of Port-au-Prince and Jacmel.
So what’s a few hours walking barefoot on a basketball court?
Tonight, the coaches for Worthington and Fulda’s girls’ basketball teams are coaching shoeless in an effort to raise money and footwear for the earthquake victims in Haiti.
“Barefoot for bare feet” is an organized effort by basketball coaches from around the country who are now pacing the sidelines without shoes to help with the relief effort.
Fulda head coach Gregg Slaathaug learned of the project through a story on KELO about South Dakota State men’s head coach Scott Nagy, whose adopted six-year-old daughter Naika is originally from Haiti.
Nagy coached barefoot on Saturday in the Jackrabbits’ game against Oakland (Mich.), and a portion of every ticket sold during the game went toward the cause.
It gave Slaathaug an idea. He and Worthington head coach Eric Lindner decided they could go shoeless in tonight’s Trojan/Raider matchup, too.
“We’re going to coach barefoot, so if we can get people to donate some money at the door, then we’re going to get that money to Coach Nagy so he can get it to his non-profit organization,” Slaathaug said.
Nagy’s story has been picked up by ESPN and sports media outlets across the Midwest. His goal is to collect $30,000 and 2,000 pairs of shoes and distribute them through Samaritan’s Feet, a charitable organization based in Charlotte, N.C.
More than 300 coaches have joined the cause, including La Salle men’s head coach John Giannini and IUPUI men’s coach Ron Hunter, who was the first one to coach barefoot two years ago.
Tonight, our area high school coaches are doing their part. Admission to the game in Worthington will be reduced, so fans will have the chance to give a free-will donation at the door.
It should be a sight to see: Lindner and Slaathaug stomping up and down the bench in their bare feet.
I’ve seen both the Trojans and Raiders play before, so I’ve had the chance to see both coaches in action.
I don’t see Lindner having too much of a problem. He’s usually pretty calm and reserved on the Trojan bench (Of course, you can afford to be more relaxed when your team is cruising along at 11-1).
I’m not so sure about Slaathaug, though. The Raiders’ coach can get pretty intense. Sometimes it seems like he exerts as much energy pacing the sideline as his players do running the court.
“I don’t know, I hope I don’t slip and fall down,” he laughed.
All for a good cause, coach.
If you can’t make it tonight – no problem. To donate $5 to Samaritan’s Feet, text “SHOES” to the number 85944.
For more information, visit the web site www.samaritansfeet.org. My hat’s (and shoes) off to all of the coaches.