Tonight, the Iola fifth-sixth grade football team will face off with Uniontown at Riverside Park in an effort to try and keep their undefeated season alive and finish with an unblemished 5-0 record.
Iola coach Robie Fountain has been in a fight of his own for nearly two years now. In February of 2015, Fountain was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma and began cancer treatments.
“I’ve been through 20 treatments of radiation and the doctors tell me that I am doing good, but it is still a battle,” Fountain said. “We won the (league) championship last year and after going through all the treatments and dealing with all I went through last year, (coaching these kids) makes it all worth it and it makes me want to fight that much harder.”
The coach not only coaches the Iola youth in football, but also on the ball diamond. This summer, he coached multiple teams in the Iola Recreation youth baseball and softball leagues.
Tonight’s game will feature an opportunity for the kids to break out some different uniforms.
The team has worn white jerseys in all of their games this season, but tonight, Iola will break out their all-black uniforms with black pants and black jerseys to go with their usual gold helmets.
“Some of them have never played in the black uniforms and it is a new look for them,” Fountain said. “After four games, I think they are excited for it.”
The ensemble will be topped off by a tribute to cancer awareness as they will each wear pink socks.
The tribute doesn’t just end with socks however, each player has selected someone affected by cancer that they will be ‘playing for.’
On the field, the game represents an opportunity for the team to check off a major item from the preseason goals list it began the season with and finish with that perfect record.
“My philosophy as a coach is just to try and put the team in position to be successful and now we are in position to finish undefeated in the league,” Fountain said. “You can never go wrong with not losing.”
Fountain says that in addition to learning how to win, the team is focused on developing solid fundamentals that will help them as they continue into middle school and high school football.
“For the most part, it is about building for the future,” Fountain said. “When they get to high school, we want them to look back and say, ‘Hey, I learned this from way back then.’ That is what it is all about for us.“
Fountain says he is thankful to have a such a great group of kids and parents to work with this season.
“The coaches have been great,” Fountain said. “Our parents have been excellent and a you can’t ask for a better group of boys and one girl.”
Iola has defeated LaCygne, Central Heights, Osawatomie and Garnett to push that unblemished record to 4-0.
Iola’s third and fourth graders will also be trying to win a league title in Humboldt tonight, when they attempt to avenge an earlier loss to the Cubs.
SPIKE OUT CANCER
The Iola High School volleyball team is also going to be showing their support for cancer research by hosting their ‘Spike Out Cancer’ event tonight.
Fans attending the games are encouraged to wear pink to show support for the cause.
The Fillies will play Wellsville and Osawatomie in varsity, junior varsity and freshmen matches.
The varsity and junior varsity games will be played at the high school, while the freshmen games will be at the middle school. Matches begin at 4:30 p.m.