T-shirt cannon to be a blast at EHS home games

Photo by Rick Harris
From left, Elizabethton coaches Tony Hardin and Chris Hambrick, and Arklie Hooten, show off the new t-shirt cannon gun to be used at Cyclone home football games.

By Ivan Sanders
Fans attending Elizabethton High's home football games this season don't need to be alarmed when they see basketball coach Tony Hardin and the rest of the Cyclone basketball coaches pulling a wagon with a compressor and carrying a cannon.
Thanks to a three-year labor of love by Arklie Hooten in building a device that can launch a T-shirt from one side of Brown-Childress Stadium to the opposite side, the Elizabethton High Fellowship of Christian Athletes will be creating an air of excitement for young and old alike.
Hooten had been working on the device for a couple of years and had put it aside until being approached by Chris Hambrick after Hooten's sister-in-law, Sandy Blowers, had made the suggestion of completing the project for a fundraising effort.
"Financially, all the donations we get in support of this project goes to the Bill Trivette Memorial Scholarship Fund that provides $4,000 annually ($1,000 each for four students) to athletes that display Christian leadership throughout the school," stated Hambrick in discussing the drive behind the project.
"It also allows us to promote what the FCA is all about and gets the students excited about participating on Friday afternoons in Coach Leslie Bradley's room. She is the student sponsor this year," added Hambrick.
Hooten got the ideal for the cannon while attending a University of Tennessee basketball game, where T-shirts were being launched into the stands from similar device. After checking into the cost of the crowd favorite, Hooten realized that Elizabethton couldn't afford such a contraption and decided to try and build one.
"I was able to get so far on it before getting to a point that I just couldn't figure out how to make it work right every time," said Hooten. "I shelved the project until Sandy approached me about revisiting it again.
"I had a dream one night about what needed to be done and I got up, went to work and it just clicked on what I was doing wrong. After correcting the problem, it has just been a labor of love in being able to help these Christian athletes have an opportunity to receive such a great scholarship."
Shooting the cannon at the games has Coach Hardin acting like a kid with a new BB gun.
"I thinking it will create a lot of excitement at the ball games," said Hardin. "This is being done for a great cause and I think the fans are going to have lots of fun with it."
The unit is completely safe as it works off of 60 psi of air from the compressor and can be adjusted to shoot anywhere from 10 to 70 yards. The T-shirts will be wrapped when shot out of the cannon, which will be used during timeouts, penalties, halftime, and whenever there is a lull in the action.
There will be around 25 shirts given out at each game during football season and then the football coaches will be shooting the cannon off during basketball season.
"We just want to thank the sponsors who have helped make this thing happen," stated Hambrick. "Without them, we could not provide this scholarship to these deserving Christian athletes who have displayed great leadership."
Hambrick added that any business that would like to contribute to the scholarship fund still can by getting in touch with him at the school.