A helping hand

The Houlka football team, along with other school teams, will reap the benefits of a local farmer’s interest in sports thanks to a grant from the Monsanto Fund.
Calhoun and Chickasaw County farmer, Wade Burt, applied for the annual America’s Farmers Grow Communities grant to be donated to the Wildcat football program to purchase equipment for their weight room. Caleb Albers of Monsanto presented the check for $2,500 to members of the team, coaches and school administration Feb. 27.
“Our goal is to give money back to the rural areas,” Albers said. “We’re happy to do it. I played football in high school and on behalf of Monsanto we hope you use it wisely and enjoy it.”
Burt, who lives in Bruce, applied for the grant for the school in Houlka because of his personal relationship with the facility.
Burt and his older brother, Tony, both attended Houlka Elementary School until sixth grade and both transferred to Bruce High School because they wanted to play football, a sport not offered in Houlka at the time.
Burt’s daughter, Gency Snellings, said her father wanted to help the school’s football program in honor of his late brother, Tony, who has two sons currently teaching at Houlka and coaching football.
“My dad and Tony both came to Bruce to play football because Houlka didn’t have it,” Snellings said. “He knows they’ve been struggling. Anytime you start a football program, it’s a struggle. My dad has coached before and he contacted the principal to see about how their weight program is. He really wants Houlka to have their football team and be successful.”
Superintendent Dr. Betsy Collums said a portion of the funds will be spent to provide the team with a steak dinner next fall, per Mr. Burt’s wishes and the remainder will be used for equipment in the weight room.
“Mr. Burt also donated $1,000 of his own money,” Collums said.
Principal Bo Seago stressed to team members the significance of the donation to the football program and to the school.
“The weight room is not just about football,” Seago said. “It’s important for football, basketball, baseball and softball, all those sports. It’s important for you to commit yourself in the weight room to get strong, bigger and faster and the better conditioned you are for games the less likely you are to be injured.”
Sid Burt and his brother, Seth, both graduated from Houlka High School before returning to teach and coach and said the donation by their uncle in memory of their father is an added benefit for the school.
“We didn’t have football when I came through here,” Burt said. “Don’t take it for granted.”

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