Crime - Sacto 911

Johnson High seeks funds to replace stolen basketball uniforms

The Hiram Johnson High School boys’ basketball program needs to raise more than $5,000 to replace the uniforms lost when its head coach’s car was stolen June 9.

“I woke up early to go to work ... and my car was just gone,” said head coach Alex Gomes-Coelho, 24.

Gomes-Coelho just finished his first year as a social science teacher at Hiram Johnson. He was hired as the Warriors’ basketball coach this spring.

Gomes-Coelho parked his Honda Accord near his home in a gated apartment complex in the College Greens area of Sacramento the night of June 8. Three large black duffel bags filled with team uniforms were in his car.

Surveillance footage from the early morning of June 9 showed an unidentified person leaving a car near Gomes-Coelho’s Accord. Gomes-Coelho believes that the thief used a shaved key to unlock and start his car. The suspect drove Gomes-Coelho’s car to an illegal parking space in the far corner of the apartment complex.

When police recovered the car at a tow yard later that week, the uniforms were gone. A bag containing the varsity and junior varsity practice jerseys was later found and returned to the school. But the uniforms for home and away games have not been recovered.

“(The thieves) probably thought (the bags) would be something valuable for them. I’m hoping that they didn’t dump the other uniforms, and they’re just going to return them,” Gomes-Coelho said.

The Warriors’ head coach hopes that his players have passable uniforms for their season opener Nov. 28.

The Hiram Johnson teams are using practice jerseys that are too faded and varied in color to meet the National Federation of High School Associations’ regulations for basketball uniforms.

The varsity team needs 26 white uniforms for home games, and another 26 maroon uniforms for away games. The stolen varsity jerseys were purchased for $3,300 this year. The JV team, which typically uses old varsity gear, also needs new uniforms. Outfitting the team with reversible jerseys will cost $1,800, Gomes-Coelho said.

Gomes-Coelho said that several people have contacted him about fundraising opportunities. The apparel company adidas has expressed interest in helping him recoup the team’s losses.

He added that the team’s morale has stayed positive despite its misfortune. The varsity Warriors are 3-1 in summer league play.

“People are still coming to voluntary practices. We’re making the right steps forward, and we’re just sticking together as a unit,” he said.

To offer fundraising ideas or donations, email Gomes-Coelho at hjhsball@yahoo.com.

Josh Mandell: 916-321-1071.

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