Photo of Ryan Wicka with the grant, as well as photos of the teams Wicka coaches

It’s not every day that you receive $75,000 to support your school’s student athletes. But for Parkside Middle School’s head football and wrestling coach, Ryan Wicka, that's exactly what happened.

“I applied for a regular sports grant through Dick’s Sporting Goods,” said Wicka. “I told [Dick’s] it didn’t matter if they sent us $10 or $10,000; anything at all would be appreciated and I would do my very best to help as many kids as I could with what they would grant us,” he added.

As part of its 75th anniversary, the company was giving away 75 grants for $75,000 each nationwide to youth sports programs making a difference in their community. Wicka figured he would apply for the grant to support Parkside Middle’s athletic programs.

Winning the award will help Wicka ensure there is plenty of support for athletic programs at Parkside for many years to come. 

"My goal is to create a secure and nurturing athletic department for young athletes over the next two decades, ensuring their physical and mental well-being,” explained Wicks. 

“It has given us the equipment that we need to properly progress through our athletics careers,” said Liam Mauch, an eighth grader at the school. Mauch is also a two-time regional wrestling champion, who understands the bigger impact of the grant on Parkside’s student athletes.

"It has given me and my teammates a better chance to succeed in sports,” he said.

The grant will improve Parkside's athletics for many years. Most importantly, this grant is a symbol of hope for those in need, proving that when individuals like Coach Wicka step up, incredible things can happen.