VYPE U: Kingwood & Kingwood Park Play for a Cause
Kingwood and Kingwood Park high schools have a special rivalry. They share a community, and many of the students know each other through extracurriculars including club sports. Their athletic programs, however, rarely get to compete, as Kingwood is a 6A school and K-Park a 5A school per UIL conference classifications. However, oftentimes the neighboring schools' teams will arrange to face each other in non-district games.
The men's soccer programs traditionally host a Charity Cup, benefitting the Shriners Hospital for Children Houston. Though the game has not taken place every year since its inception due to scheduling challenges and unfortunate weather, Kingwood's Coach Jennings says that the event is, "usually the first game [they] try to lock in on the schedule."
The Shriners Hospital for Children Houston is the chosen charity. The hospital provides life-changing pediatric care mainly for neuromusculoskeletal conditions and burn injuries among other healthcare needs. In the past, the athletes have been able to go tour the hospital and deliver the collected toy donations to the kids. This year, however, the boys will not be able to enter due to COVID-19 safety risks. They were also not able to do a toy drive, but they still had a collection box for donations that will go to families to use for needs such as food, transportation, and housing. Jennings wished to promote the Shriners Hospital for Children website at www.shrinershospitalsforchildren.org for those who would like to learn more about the organization.
K-Park's Coach Searle says that, "all the players look forward to playing this game." They get to play against guys they have known outside of school for years, generally in front of a larger community crowd than usual, and for a special cause.
The 2020 Charity Cup took place on the chilly evening of Friday, December 18th, with K-Park coming out victorious by a score of 4-1.
The first playing of the Kingwood versus K-Park Charity Cup was in the 2014-2015 season. Coach Jennings brought the idea from his former program. They hosted a similar charity game annually with their neighboring school, and Jennings wanted to carry on the tradition and introduce it to Kingwood. He sees it as a great opportunity to get the community involved for a good cause and, "a great opportunity to showcase more than just soccer" Searle said that he was "fully on board" when Jennings approached him with the idea.
Jennings said that, "the impact on the boys after learning about their effort humbles them a little and gives them something to be proud of." He emphasized that, "beyond the competitiveness and sportsmanship, the boys will be in service of others and will have an impact beyond the pitch." To Jennings, this, "give[s] meaning to the game beyond a win or loss." Searle was on the same page, saying that the event helps them, "show there is more to this world than playing a game", adding that, "giving back to the community shows that our programs care."