University of Wisconsin-Madison Athletic Director Chris McIntosh and UW Head Football Coach Paul Chryst recently showed their support for the East Side Youth Football Program, helping them replace the football equipment that they lost in a tragic fire. On Sept. 14, they gave the young people a special surprise showing up at practice at Madison East High school to present equipment and speak to the young people.
Eastside Youth Athletics (ESYA) had been struggling to keep this program on its feet since a fire at the Mallards Stadium in October of 2019 destroyed all of the club’s equipment including jerseys and helmets. A father of one of the players on one of Eastside Youth football teams made the initial contact with the UW Athletic Department as ESYA looked for donations to keep the program running. McIntosh and Chryst provided new helmets, shoulder pads, cleats, and jerseys to ESYA.
ESYA, formerly Warner Park Youth Football, was established in 1972 and is a non-profit corporation dedicated to organizing and teaching youth football and cheerleading in Madison.
McIntosh described the opportunity for him and Chryst to help the program as highly crucial given the club’s challenges after the destruction of their equipment shed.
“I thought it was important that when we were made aware of the loss that the club had had due to the fire, that we were in a position to pull together some of our partners — Riddell, Under Armor, Signature Concepts — and to put together some support to make an impact. We were in a position to help in this case,” McIntosh told Madison365.
McIntosh described the reaction of the kids receiving the equipment as “really cool,” and reflected on how the kids were excited to see Coach Chryst, who not only got a chance to watch the club practice but to speak to the players and coaches as well.
“I thought when we went out there to actually meet the kids, the coaches, and the organizers of the club, it just came to life to see the work that they are doing and the impact that they are making,” McIntosh said. “It was personally rewarding to know that we were able to help out an organization that’s doing such good work, giving young kids the opportunity to learn football and learn the lessons of football that will carry off the field. It was quite a powerful experience.”
McIntosh stated that he and Coach Chryst left feeling energized about the Madison community’s growing relationship with Badger Athletics and feeling great about the impact that ESYA is making. He added that this was not a UW Athletic Department effort but that he thinks it represents a bigger priority for the department going forward.
“We will grow and lean into our Badgers Give Back Programming, and we’ve already been able to do some exciting things over the summer, and I think you’ll see us, that is the Badgers Athletic Department, connect more and more with our local community members and leaders,” McIntosh said.
Badgers Give Back works with multiple organizations and community partners such as K-12 education, American Family Children’s hospital, and the Goodman Community Center. The program gives student-athletes and coaches opportunities to engage with the Madison community, aspiring to make it a better one.
“When our student-athletes are in a position to be role models and to talk about the value of education, those are powerful and rewarding experiences that I think we all grow from,” McIntosh said.