TANNER, AL (WHNT) - The Tanner High School Lady Rattlers didn't make it to the state soccer finals this year. In fact, they didn’t win a single game. In 12 matches, they gave up 90 goals and only scored one time. But what they lack in wins, they make up with heart. At the start of the season, they didn’t have a lot going for them, including being 800 dollars in the red. “Started in the hole, didn’t have a coach,” Tanner principal Billy Owens told us. “I met with the kids and said we are going to have a team. I don’t know who’s going to coach it but just hang in there.” They did. Regina Montgomery, a University of North Alabama senior was doing her student teaching at Tanner. She volunteered to coach. She had 19 girls and seven uniforms, the same worn out uniforms from four years ago. So they had a kiss a pig fundraiser.
That was about the same time one of their senior classmates died in her sleep. Owens said, “She was getting ready for the prom and you know always had a smile on her face.” Alexis Hamilton was a 19 year old special needs student. “And if you didn`t have a heart for a kid like that, then you don`t have a heart. So our kids just loved her,” Owens added. The girls on the soccer team loved Alexis so much when they heard her family was raising money for bills and funeral expenses there was only one thing to do. Katelin Northrup, one of the soccer players told us, “We decided instead to give it to her to help her family.”
Two months ago, we shared the story about their act of kindness and how they have Alexis’ family their uniform money, all 138 dollars of it. Their actions inspired our viewers. Two anonymous donors came forward and wanted to pay for the girls uniforms. They gave two checks, one for $500, the other for $800. Billy Owens told the girls, “I think the reason we’re even in this world is to help others so we helped someone else get through a difficult time and now others are helping us get through a difficult time by helping us with our uniforms.”
It was a powerful lesson for everyone. Coach Montgomery added, “You can’t beat God’s giving no matter how you try. The more you give, He gives to you and that’s what these girls are experiencing and I hope they always remember it for the rest of their lives.” One of the players, Tate Yancey told us, “You give and you get and we were very blessed to receive.”
But the blessings didn’t stop there. Some parents of players on the Madison Academy Lady Mustang soccer team saw the story and were touched. They started a fundraising effort that snowballed. The Mustangs came to Tanner but not just to compete. Madison Academy coach James Jay told the girls, “The act of kindness that you guys did in your school has touched a lot of lives and it’s made a difference in a lot of people and it’s really stirred a lot of people’s hearts.” And it did so in a big way. Coach Jay and the team presented the Lady Rattlers with a check for $4,500.
The saying it’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game, really is true. What has happened to this team and what they’ve done this year has been a big win for them. “They’re champions right now,” added Billy Owens. “They are champions in this community and in this school with the administration and with the teachers. They’re champions. They are.”
And as the girls gathered in a circle at midfield and one of them prayed, “Dear Lord, thank you for this day. I’m so glad we got to bless Tanner with this blessing,” You can’t help but believe that somehow, Alexis Hamilton was watching it all from above with a big smile on her face.
The Lady Rattlers will be able to not only pay for their new uniforms, they can also buy new soccer equipment and game day warm ups, something they've never had before.