SAN FRANCISCO — As the bus arrived and the University of Washington football team’s defensive players and coaches filed off, the Huskies’ offensive squad waiting outside Glide Memorial Church prepared to board the same bus and head back to the team hotel.
They worked in shifts serving Christmas meals to homeless and poor families and individuals: first the offense, then the defense.
Antavius Sims, a senior receiver, pulled a double.
“I’m staying,” he called out as his offensive teammates boarded the bus, then he headed back inside and went back to work.
This is Sims’ first Christmas away from his hometown of Americus, Ga., where his grandmother taught him from an early age that it was more important to give on this day than to receive.
And so he has, each Christmas since he was a child — 15 or 16 years running, he said — at the Zion
Hope Baptist Church back home. That’s why for Sims, helping out at Glide was more than just a stop on the list of activities while the Huskies are here this week for the Fight Hunger Bowl.
“I do it every year,” Sims said. “This is the first year I’ve been away from home during Christmas, so it was a blessing to get to do it with different people, with my teammates.
“When you give back to the people that don’t really have a place to go or a place to eat, it just makes you feel better as a person on the holidays, to help people get back on their feet, people that don’t have enough money to buy food.”
Sims and his teammates weren’t alone. This is a massive, intricate effort here at the most iconic location for San Francisco’s homeless community in the rugged Tenderloin neighborhood. Signs posted throughout the Glide facilities encouraged regular volunteers to take Christmas off because they already had 600 people signed up to help serve meals.
Glide Memorial, which has been served by the Rev. Cecil Williams for 50 years — he retired as pastor but remains heavily involved as Glide’s CEO — became famous long ago for its diverse, “radically inclusive” approach toward faith and the disenfranchised population in San Francisco.
The church estimates that it serves 850,000 free meals per year, and more than 5,000 people were expected to be fed on Christmas Day.
The Huskies were a big part of that. Many of them worked over an assembly line of bread, peanut butter and brown paper bags, putting together sack lunches to be given out Thursday, then packing them into large, clear plastic bags.
Hau’oli Kikaha and Josh Shirley, among others, helped to load trays with fruit. Sean Parker and Princeton Fuimaono shuttled back and forth between the kitchen and the café, hauling steel containers of steaming turkey meat and other assorted fixings. Trays packed with turkey, ham, rolls, vegetables, potatoes, stuffing, gravy and pie were gladly consumed by the folks in attendance.
Others helped elderly or disabled patrons to their seats, or helped signal to other staffers when chairs at tables became available.
Earlier in the day were two church services, accompanied by the famed Glide gospel choir and band.
Players and coaches from Brigham Young, UW’s opponent in Friday’s game, volunteered earlier in the day at St. Anthony’s Dining Room.
Jean Cooper, a Glide spokesperson, said it’s always nice for clients to be able to see coaches or players with connections to the Bay Area, such as UW interim coach Marques Tuiasosopo, who played for the Oakland Raiders for seven seasons.
“Over the years that we’ve had the guys coming in from the hunger bowl, we’ve had folks like the coach today, all these different great players that all of our staff know who they are, our clients know who they are, and they’re able to connect with them and have an opportunity to say hello,” Cooper said. Fight HUnger bowl: Washington (8-4) vs. BYU (8-4), AT&T Park, San Francisco, 6:30 p.m. Friday, ESPN, 950-AM HUSKIES’ bowl opponent
FIGHT HUNGER BOWL
Brigham Young Cougars (8-4, Independent) 6:30 p.m. Friday, AT&T Park, San Francisco
TV: ESPN. Radio: 950-AM.
Coach: Bronco Mendenhall (82-33 in ninth year at BYU and overall)
Against the Huskies: The series is tied, 4-4.
Scouting report: Don’t plan on changing the channel much between plays when Washington and Brigham Young are on the field. The Huskies try to play as fast as they can, but the Cougars play faster. BYU is one of only four teams in the nation to snap the ball 1,000 or more times in 12 games, and ranks 14th nationally in total offense as a result. BYU quarterback Taysom Hill is the team’s leading rusher with 1,211 yards and nine TDs, in addition to 2,645 yards passing, 19 TDs and 13 INTs. RB Jamaal Williams, who has rushed for 1,202 yards this season, gives BYU two players who average 100 yards rushing or more per game. … LB Kyle Van Noy is the best player on a BYU defense that ranks 51st in the country in total yards allowed (383.3 per game). The Cougars, however, are tied for 22nd in the country in scoring defense, yielding only 21.3 points per game. Van Noy has 26 career sacks, which is fourth-best among active players. … BYU’s roster lists seven players from the state of Washington, including junior offensive lineman Tim Duran (Puyallup), freshman quarterback Billy Green (Woodway), sophomore tight end Terenn Houk (Enumclaw), senior defensive back Scott Lefrandt (Seattle) and freshman receiver Luke Nelson (Issaquah).
Did you know? The Huskies played BYU three times when interim coach Marques Tuiasosopo was a player. UW won in Provo in 1997, Tuiasosopo’s freshman season, then won in Seattle in 1998. The Huskies lost in Provo in 1999, his first year as the starting quarterback.
Aug. 31L, 19-16, at Virginia
Sept. 7W, 40-21, vs. Texas
Sept. 21L, 20-13, vs. Utah
Sept. 27W, 37-10, vs. Middle Tennessee
Oct. 4W, 31-14, at Utah State
Oct. 12W, 38-20, vs. Georgia Tech
Oct. 19W, 47-46, at Houston
Oct. 25W, 37-20, vs. Boise State
Nov. 9L, 27-17, at Wisconsin
Nov. 16W, 59-13, vs. Idaho State
Nov. 23L, 23-13, at Notre Dame
Nov. 30W, 28-23, at Nevadachristian.caple@ thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/uwsports @ChristianCaple email@example.com