NEW IBERIA, La. (KLFY) — The first Iberia Parish Public School to win a state football championship discovered there are some things talent and teamwork alone can’t get you. The Westgate Tigers all earned a championship ring, but players are responsible for buying them.
“We just really wanted to win real bad, so we never really thought about what was going to come after,” explained junior Westgate Football player Dedrick Latulas.
“The crazy part was just figuring out, you know, what’s next,” Westgate Head Coach Ryan Antoine added.
When the Westgate Tigers walked out of the Superdome as 4A champions, reality hit them. Getting the trophy was one thing. Getting a ring was another entirely. There are 90 people on this championship team, including 23 seniors. Each member of the team is responsible for buying their own ring at $250 apiece.
“Did you ever have a moment when you were like where am I going to come up with $250?”, News 10 reporter Neale Zeringue asked Latulas.
“Oh yes sir, definitely,” the junior student replied.
Westgate does not have a booster club and relies mostly on tickets to fund the team, so Principal Neely Anne Moore and Head Coach Ryan Antoine put out a letter asking for the community’s help. The response was tremendous.
“None of the student-athletes will be paying for a ring out of pocket,” Coach Antoine told News 10.
It takes at least $20,000 in donations to fully cover the team’s rings, but the Coach also hopes to send off his championships with a banquet and memorialize their achievement on the field with a banner.
According to Coach Antoine, their purpose is, “Just to try to make sure our kids always have something to look forward to as the younger kids, but also, for these kids that left this lasting mark to be able to always come back and be able to say this is the team that did it.”
Any additional funds received will go toward purchasing equipment student-athletes equipment that they are in desperate need of.
“I’m going to cherish that ring well, Dedrick Latulas stated. “For the community that’s coming out, for outsiders that’s helping chip in, and everyone who is just making this dream possible for Westgate High, it’s big for us. We’re really thankful.”
If you want to see that banner in the stands or these kids get the equipment deserving of a championship team, contact Principal Neely Moore at email@example.com or 337-365-2431.