Members of the “Coyote Brotherhood” and supporters of the University of South Dakota football program helped raise over $10,000 in support of Jay Hill, Weber State head football coach, and his wife, Sara Hill, who is battling Stage 4 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
On Sept. 10, Weber State traveled to Vermillion, South Dakota, to take on the University of South Dakota Coyotes.
“The emotions of a lifetime” were on full display that afternoon as the Wildcats and Coyotes rumbled for hours.
After Weber State lost a 21-point lead in the third quarter, South Dakota fought back to beat the Wildcats 52-49 in a double-overtime thriller.
The USD Coyotes showed true grit on the field when faced with a seemingly insurmountable point deficit — but it was off the field where true heart and class won the day for both programs.
“I think it is an unbelievable gesture from such a classy program,” coach Hill said in an interview with Brandon Garside of the Standard Examiner. “It’s amazing when you go through something like this — the outpouring love and support people are willing to give.”
Dave Hultgren, former Coyote defensive end and proud Coyote Brotherhood member, spearheaded the fundraising effort on behalf of the Hill’s.
Hultgren said he was not surprised by the community’s response to the fund raising efforts.
“Our community is very caring, generous and compassionate … they understand the game of life — so the generosity was not a surprise,” Hultgren said.
However, Hultgren was surprised how quickly the idea spread throughout the community members.
“The idea for the fundraiser really only came together the Sunday before the game,” he said. “I was surprised at how fast the news about it spread.”
Given the amount of vitriol and conflict present in the media today, Hultgren and the Brotherhood’s compassionate gesture struck a chord in the community for the right reasons.
Hultgren said he felt “honored and humbled” for those calling him a hero for his efforts.
“I am just so impressed with the Weber State athletic director, Weber’s football program and with meeting Jay,” he said. “I am a huge fan of the Wildcats after this experience. It’s a very classy organization.”
Hultgren highlighted the experience of the fundraising efforts at the tailgating event prior to kickoff.
“We were going around the dome with money bags and people were just shoving money in one after the next … everyone was just cheering and had the best attitude about it,” he said.
After the game, Hultgren was sitting in his Ford Explorer, trying to arrange the money into neat stacks, and people continued to throw money into his car windows.
“Not kidding,” he said, “I’ve got an extra $200 – $300 at home in a pile that I found in between and under the car seats afterwards.”
Though the world of sports is one of fierce competition, the human experience has once again transcended petty rivalry.
“There is more to life than college football,” Hultgren said. “But without it, this wouldn’t have happened.”