The gym at Southeast High School in Oklahoma City got pretty loud today. Maybe not Oklahoma City Arena-loud, but close – the students sure gave it the ol’ Spartan try.
At today’s all-school assembly, the high schoolers gathered thinking they were going to have to make all the noise themselves. Little did they know who was going to help them crank up the volume.
Gerald McCoy, Southeast HS grad and now a defensive tackle for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, surprised the school by marching into the assembly behind the Thunder Drummers, all raising a racket. McCoy, who was drum line captain during his time at Southeast, took up his own drum and banged along with the Thunder squad.
The football star’s return home had nothing directly to do with sports. It had to do with his new partnership with the Oklahoma Public Schools Foundation to benefit the city’s public schools by raising money for some necessities they can’t afford.
McCoy’s first move: donating four new bass drums to Southeast, and pledging to help the foundation raise $35,000 to purchase new band uniforms. The Spartans haven’t had new uniforms in 48 years.
Students were thrilled. They screamed and clapped for McCoy and the drummers; they yelled and cheered when they found out the help their school would be getting – including the current school band, who were all outfitted in Spartan T-shirts.
McCoy, a 2006 graduate of the school and the third-overall pick in the 2010 NFL draft, stressed the importance of making good choices, making courageous decisions and trying new things. His horizons have been broadened with the choices he’s made and the experiences those decisions have led to. And he wants to see the students from his alma mater have the same opportunities – if not as far-reaching as the NFL, at least the chance to develop their potential and diversify their interests.
Our team became involved in the event through connections our community relations department has forged with corporate and nonprofit partners. In this case, a member of Chesapeake Energy’s community relations staff, Theresa Rose, reached out to her counterpart in our office; Theresa also sits on the board of the OCPS Foundation.
Nobody appreciated this opportunity more than our Thunder Drummers, who seemed at least as excited as the students (and as McCoy himself). They came early for a practice session with McCoy, who then asked if they’d do some freestyle for him. Watch it below; I apologize in advance for the terrible pun, but the video definitely ends this story with a bang:
- Karina Henderson