Football is her game and Sonja Rush-Harvin’s undying support has earned her a national award. She is Title I Coordinator and Curriculum Specialist at C.E. Murray High School in Greeleyville. She was recently named the grand prize winner for the USA Football 2016 Team Mom of the Year program.
Ten women representing high schools and youth football organizations across the country were named finalists for the 2016 Team Mom of the Year Award, presented by USA Football, the National Governing Body of America’s favorite sport. The women represented the millions of moms who support football programs across the United States with their time, effort and emotion.
Harvin will receive a grand prize package that includes a $5,000 equipment grant and AED for her league or school, as well as a prize pack that includes game day accessories. “I was shaking when I found out,” said Harvin after getting the news. “I just couldn’t believe it.” She got the news from C.E. Murray Football Coach Brian Smith. “He said he saw it on Twitter,” she said laughing. “I said what are you talking about?”
Over 2,000 women were nominated by their leagues or high schools. USA Football recognized 20 nominees each week for their dedication and commitment. Nominees then competed to obtain the most online votes through social media and community outreach to become a finalist. Harvin gives credit to the “team” that rallied around her during the voting process. “We were successful because of our fellow team moms’ and the entire C.E. Murray War Eagle Family,” said Harvin. “We incorporated the entire student body using social media. We got the team, students and teachers involved, the entire community - everybody was voting. Kids would walk by and say “I voted for you today.” The next step was to create a video, which Harvin said she was certain her video would not have a chance. “I was looking at the other ladies’ videos and they had the little rec teams in theirs and the kids were so cute,” said Harvin who won Carolina Panthers Team Mom in 2015. “Ours was high school so I just figured cute kids would win over the high school.” Her sister-in-law, Darci Strickland of WLYX Channel 19, helped her create the video. “We did it as breaking news with some of the football players and a cheerleader.”
USA Football CEO and Executive Director Scott Hallenbeck made the announcement. “So many moms work behind the scenes across high school and youth football, selflessly giving of themselves to make a great experience for their kids even better,” said Hallenbeck. “We’re pleased to honor these extraordinary finalists as well as every mom who contributes to the game’s fun, friendships and lasting memories on and off the field.” Two weeks later Harvin is still walking on air. “I still don’t believe it,” she said. “Last year we could only afford home uniforms so this year we’ll be able to purchase away uniforms.” One set of uniforms for 30 players cost approximately $7,000. Her story and video is featured online at http://www2.usafootball.com/poll_management/userpoll/15. The athletic department is also raising funds to purchase weight room equipment. Visit https://www.gofundme.com/b2ufqkj8 to donate to that cause.