The COVID-19 pandemic put a damper on typical yearly fundraising options for Gretna women's basketball coach Herbert Daniel. His only choice was to take matters into his own hands to help his team.
"When COVID hit back in march, everyone was stuck in the house," Daniel said. "I enjoyed getting out and running, lifting – those type of things. I built me a little weight room at the house, but I wanted to add some cardio, so I decided to start biking. I bought a good mid-level bike and started riding here and riding there, and realized, 'Hey, I really enjoy this.'"
It was at that time when Daniel decided to complete a 50-mile ride in Richmond.
"There's a trail that goes from Maine to Florida," Daniel explained. "I did 50 miles on that trail from Richmond to Williamsburg."
Daniel usually fundraises for his team at Virginia Tech, but with the obstacles posed by the pandemic, he thought, "Why don't I do a little biking?"
Daniel first wanted to organize a virtual bike ride.
"The initial plan was to gather as many people as possible from as many places as possible and have them to ride in their very own place," Daniel said. "I would ride in Richmond, someone would ride in Washington, D.C., someone in Gretna – it didn't matter where you rode, as long as we would all do it on the same day. As I started talking to people, I didn't know if it was going to work out. So I said, "I'll do the rides myself.'"
Taking on the challenge all on his own, Daniel decided to go big or go home. One hundred miles of biking over four states would be appropriate, he deemed.
"I said, 'That's a pretty neat idea,'" Daniel recalled. "I decided I'd just do 25 miles in four states. That would be pretty cool. So I had to come up with the states i was going to use."
Two of Daniel's Gretna players had an upcoming travel team game in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and Daniel wanted to watch them play and cheer them on.
"I was looking for the four states, and I wanted to watch them play," he said. "I said, we'll do Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia. That's how I came up with the four I was going to ride."
"Augusta, Georgia, I picked because it's pretty close to South Carolina," Daniel continued. "I got to Augusta and googled parks near me. I found a very nice park in Augusta and did 25 miles that Friday. I got back in my car, drove to Columbia, South Carolina, where I was stationed in the military. I did 25 miles in Columbia. So I did 50 miles the first day."
The next day, Daniel got up in the morning and drove to Winston-Salem, cheering on his girls at three games, the first of which started at 10 a.m.
"It was the perfect opportunity to get my ride in in North Carolina," Daniel said. "The Salem River was really, really pretty."
Daniel planned to finish his 100 mile challenge in Danville, but that Sunday morning, it was cold and rainy. He ended up recording his final 25 miles in Lynchburg.
In the end, Daniel was able to raise $1,000 for his team through t-shirt sales and donations.
"The money all goes to our tournaments that well play in the spring," Daniel said. "This year, it's been hard to do that because there were no funds there."
But thanks to their coach's commitment, the Gretna basketball girls won't have to worry about their spring season any longer.