CHICO (CBS13) — Weeks after the Camp Fire ravaged the town of Paradise, the community is coming together in the name of basketball.
Paradise High School boys’ and girls’ varsity basketball teams had their season opener Monday evening at Chico State.
“It’s not going to be a rivalry game. At least for me. I just want to go and have fun,” Fiona Roberts said.
After losing her home in the Camp Fire, the Paradise High varsity player said Monday night’s game was the distraction she’d been waiting for.
“Everybody in Paradise went through like a life or death situation and everyone is in the same boat. To be sad about it and just like think about it all the time, it’s not going to do anything,” she said.
Instead, she and her teammates focused on playing well. Chico High School has been at the forefront of helping the Paradise team recover.
The school has held fundraisers and even opened their campus to host Paradise girls and boys basketball practice.
“They were so nice to us and they gave us like gift bags and gift cards and they fundraised for us and they were so sweet,” Roberts said.
Her coach, Shiela Craft, says it’s a sign of how neighboring communities have rallied together to help sustain the Paradise athletic program. It’s an act she hopes uplifts her players.
“Even though everything around them is falling apart, I want them to know that basketball is the one thing that has stayed. It didn’t go away in the fire,” she said.
The season opener is essentially a fundraiser for Paradise High School athletics. All proceeds will be donated to the program and Chico players are onboard with the plan.
“We just really want to establish our camaraderie with them and friendship with the community,” said Chico boys varsity player, Stephen Schaefer.
As for Roberts, being able to partake in this game is why she’s still counting her blessings.
“I was lucky enough to have my whole family safe, all my animals were safe and I’m just trying to look at the positives,” she said.
The Paradise girls’ team lost their game 56-22, while the boys’ squad won their opener 80-62 over Chico High. Either way, many said they were simply happy to see smiles on the faces of Paradise students.