Skiatook Soccer Team's Goodwill Gesture Overwhelms Oologah Team Hit By Tragedy

Tuesday, October 8th 2013, 3:40 pm
By: News On 6

A youth soccer team from Skiatook is getting a lot of positive attention on social media, thanks to something it did before and after a game in Oologah on Monday, October 7, 2013.

The Skiatook Elite girls under-10 team was supposed to play the Oologah Storm on Saturday, October 12, but the Storm can't play that day.

Instead, the Storm will be in Bartlesville, attending the funeral for a teammate and her younger sister.

Hailey Benham, 9, and her 6-year-old sister, Hannah, died on Monday, September 30, when a train hit the SUV driven by their mother, Natalie, near Watova.

10/1/2013: Related Story: Oologah, Nowata Communities Mourn Sisters Killed At Railroad Crossing

Hannah played on an under-8 team in Oologah, Hailey played for the Storm where she wore the number 9 jersey.

Once the team learned that the funeral for the sisters would take place on Saturday morning, coach Robert Powell realized he'd have to move the game. Elite coach Jeremy Chisum agreed to play the game Monday evening. But he took it a step further.

After the captains for both teams attended the coin toss before the opening kickoff, the Elite captains presented a single yellow balloon to the captains of the Storm. Yellow is the Storm's color.

They also presented their counterparts from the Storm with a large banner which read "Playing for Hailey #9." 

Each member of the Elite had #9 painted on her face, and each player on the team wore one white sock and one yellow sock in honor of Hailey and her teammates.

After the game, as both teams posed for photos in one big group, Coach Chisum shrugged off compliments about his team's sportsmanship, saying, "I can't even imagine what they're dealing with."

One of the Skiatook parents said the desire to show support for the Oologah team didn't stop with the coaches and parents.

"I told the print shop over the phone why I needed the sign and they gave me the price which was not expensive and I was willing to pay it. But when I arrived to get the sign the gentleman kindly smiled and said there would be no charge and wished the girls luck," said April Bible.

Parents and coaches of the Oologah players were deeply touched by the gestures.

"Thank you to Coach Jeremy and all of the Skiatook Elite players and parents for honoring sweet Hailey last night. Words cannot express what that meant to us all. We miss you, Hailey," said Coach Powell. 

The funeral for Hannah and Hailey Benham will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, at Bartlesville First Wesleyan Church.

Friends have set up an account at Bank of the Lakes to benefit the family. Donations can be made to the "Natalie Benham Support Trust." Donations can also be made at any Arvest Bank to the "Hailey and Hannah Benham Memorial Fund."

The Oologah Public Schools cafeteria will host a benefit spaghetti dinner for the family from 5 to 7 p.m. on Friday, October 11.