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Colts' McAfee helps improve alma mater Plum's weight room

| Wednesday, July 16, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Michael Love | Plum Advance Leader
Plum grad and Indianapolis Colts punter Pat McAfee, above at center, joins members of the Plum varsity football team in the newly refurbished football weight room on July 10, 2014.
Michael Love | Plum Advance Leader
Plum rising junior and Mustangs punter and place kicker Jake Chapla, bottom at left, gets some kicking pointers from Plum graduate and Indianapolis Colts punter and kicker Pat McAfee during an on-field workout July 10, 2014.

When Matt Morgan took over as head coach of the Plum varsity football team in the spring of 2013, one of his goals, and a goal of his assistant coaches, was to improve the condition of a weight room that was starting to become unsafe and unsanitary for his players.

During one weightlifting session, assistant coach and former Plum quarterback Kyle Simmons said, a piece of equipment broke, and that added to the determination to have something done.

“We were brainstorming fundraising ideas, and I had remembered my time in high school playing with Pat McAfee,” Simmons said.

“I was a freshman when he was a senior. I started messaging him on Facebook and started sending him pictures of the weight room. I asked him if he would be willing to donate any money to help out.”

McAfee, a Plum football and soccer player who now is a punter and kicker in the NFL with the Indianapolis Colts, was moved by what he saw and donated money to help the program purchase a new set of equipment and machines for the weight room.

“It's really cool,” said McAfee, who was at Plum High School last Thursday to see the newly installed equipment and refurbished room behind the home side of Plum's football stadium.

“What coach Morgan, coach Simmons and others are doing with the weight room is pretty exciting. I was glad to be able to help out and give back. You look in there and see a lot of promise and a home for future generations of Plum football players.”

The players removed the flooring and old equipment — much of the still-safe equipment was donated to Oblock Junior High — and volunteers, including several football players' fathers, prepared the room by installing new flooring, painting the walls and installing a speaker system.

“The volunteers really worked their butts off to make the room ready for the equipment,” Morgan said.

“We all really appreciate their help. It was one of our goals to get it done. It's such a benefit and pride things for the kids. We don't want them to take this for granted.”

“Our intentions eventually were to get the project completed in a couple of years down the road, but Pat donated enough money to help make our dreams a reality this year,” Simmons said.

“We offered recommendations for the equipment — what we used in college and what we knew worked – that would benefit the basics of our lifting program. We didn't want anything extravagant. We wanted to purchase good, quality machines that would help the kids get stronger.”

McAfee said he was happy to help in any way possible and happy to be able to make it home to Plum in advance of the start of the 2014 NFL season.

Training camp for the Colts opens next Wednesday.

“You just have to give someone an opportunity to benefit themselves,” McAfee said. “We can't force kids to work and want to get better, but we can give them opportunities to do so if they want to. That's what this gym and the equipment is all about.”

McAfee signed a new 5-year contract with the Colts in March, and he announced the agreement on live television during an appearance on the NFL Network show, NFL AM.

“I enjoyed myself in front of the camera. NFL AM brought me in for a trial run there, and I had a lot of fun,” McAfee said.

He said he also had a lot of fun interacting with members of the Plum football team during his visit, and he also got the opportunity to kick a few footballs on the Plum turf.

McAfee crushed several punts, kickoffs and field goals and was able to give a few pointers to Plum kickers of the present and recent past, including rising junior Jake Chapla, the Mustangs' starting punter and place kicker.

“I struggled punting last year because of soccer, and it was a huge adjustment for me,” Chapla said.

“I am right-handed, but I kick left-footed. I need to learn to hold the ball with my left hand. Pat gave me some great tips. When I was hitting field goals, he told me I was hitting a great ball. I had an NFL kicker tell me I was doing some good things. I am on top of the world.”

Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825, at or via Twitter @Mlove_Trib.

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