One happy Thanksgiving!

Published 4:10 pm Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Former Washington High School and East Carolina University star wide receiver, and current Kansas City Chief, Terrance Copper has teamed up with the NFL to donate $10,000 to his former high school and the Washington Youth Football League. (WDN File Photo)

This Thanksgiving Washington High School has a little bit more to be thankful for as it received a sizeable donation for its former star receiver Terrance Copper.
Copper, an eight-year NFL veteran and current member of the Kansas City Chiefs, has teamed up with the NFL on a grant program that at the end of the day gives both Washington High School and the Washington Youth Football League $10,000 each to help upgrade its athletic equipment.
The program is designed to help high schools and youth programs across the country and allows a player to donate a maximum of $5,000 towards those programs and is in turn matched by the NFL. As he does on the playing field every Sunday, Copper went all out and donated the max to both WHS and the WYFL.
“Washington is where I grew up at, I lived in Washington all my life and I still got family in my hometown and I felt like it was something that I wanted to do for the kids,” Copper said. “It was an opportunity to give back to them.”
Washington football coach Sport Sawyer, who was the wide receivers coach when Copper starred for the Pam Pack from 1996-2000, was thrilled to find out about Copper’s actions and said he and all the beneficiaries are extremely appreciative.
“He did not have to do this,” Sawyer said. “He’s always been willing to help Washington High School and is always willing to come out an talk to the boys and show them stuff. He’s always been very good to Washington High School.”
Washington athletic director and girls basketball coach Allison Jones said Copper’s donation will not only help the football team pick up a few big budget items, but will also help out the other sports programs as well.
“Most likely, this money will go toward a special purchase for the football program that we would not normally be able to purchase. I know that coach Sawyer is looking at  purchasing a new blocking sled for example,” Jones said. “Indirectly, this donation benefits our entire athletic program. Specifically, the money has to be spent on the football program (per the contract), so it frees up some of the money for other sports. …  We just want Terrance and the NFL to know that we truly appreciate this donation and we will be good stewards of this money.”
Jones’ husband, Brian Jones, is the president of the WYFL and was so stunned by Copper’s generosity that he initially thought he was being pranked by WYFL treasurer Walt Gerrard.
“I thought Walt was having a little fun with me when my office started receiving faxes and emails from the Kansas City Chiefs and the NFL. Then I got a voicemail from a young lady who identified herself as the Director of Player Development with the Chiefs, and I realized this was not a prank. I was floored,” Brian said. “Mr. Copper personally made a very generous gift to the WYFL and arranged for the NFL, through its Youth Football Fund, to make a gift in the same amount. The humility shown by Terrence’s preference for no personal recognition is genuine, and Walt thanked him on behalf of the league.
“The entire community, especially our kids and parents in the WYFL, should know of his generosity, as well as the NFL’s grant. The WYFL is discussing how to thank Mr. Copper in a more formal way.”
Brian said that Copper’s donation will not only help out the athletes in the WYFL, but their parents as well.
“We reduced our registration fees this year, and Terrence’s gift will help us move toward another reduction in fees,” Brian said. “We have equipment needs, too, with the most pressing being to get some rehab on some of our equipment. Purchasing a blocking sled is a priority also. His donation will continue to give to many kids for years.”
During Copper’s time with the Pam Pack he set school records for receptions and receiving yards with 159 catches for 2,826 yards while hauling in 27 touchdowns and when the receiver was presented with an opportunity to help out his alma-matter he did not drop the ball.
Sawyer said Copper’s friendly demeanor and caring personality dates all the way back to his Pam Pack playing days.
“He’s very polite and a very well mannered man who always looks out for others, his friends and his school,” Sawyer said. “In high school I remember him being a very nice guy. He did his work and did what he was supposed to do; he’s just a good guy.”
Copper, who is a member of the Washington Walk of Fame, went on to star at East Carolina University before going on the NFL, and said he thinks of his hometown whenever he steps on to the field.
“When I’m on that football field and I’m playing I’m representing them, I’m representing Washington, North Carolina. That’s my hometown.”
Copper is an Eastern North Carolina guy down to his core, which extends all the way to his taste in barbeque. While Kansas City is known for its barbeque, Copper said it doesn’t compare to what he grew up on.
“I have a big debate with a lot of people about that, I’m not a Kansas City barbeque guy I’m a North Carolina barbeque guy,” Copper said. “The barbeque (in Kansas City) is good, don’t get me wrong, but I’m a North Carolina guy and I love North Carolina barbeque.”
North Carolina will always be in Copper’s heart no matter where he plays and for that the people of Washington will always be thankful.
“It’s great to know that he still thinks of Washington and the youth of Washington,” Sawyers said. “He’s a big time NFL football player and while he visits all these big cities each week he still thinks of his hometown and we’re thankful that he does that.”