DADE CITY — How do you steal a 1,700-pound football sled?
And why would anyone do it?
Those are the questions floating around Pasco Middle School after coaches discovered the steel sled missing from the school track on Tuesday.
Coach Danny Wade said team alumni who remember long drills on the sled also want to know: "Why didn't they steal the thing seven years ago?"
Nicknamed Bessie, the five-person blocking sled was the bane of many a Pasco Pirate offensive lineman.
"The ones that really work with it on a daily basis are like, 'Thank God we don't have to work with it now,' " Wade said.
The sled was stored outside at the school's fenced-in track on 14th Street, which Wade said is shared with nearby Pasco Elementary School and also used by the community.
The sled wasn't secured, mainly because it's so heavy that no one ever thought it would be stolen. It takes about 10 players and coaches to move Bessie around the field.
Wade imagined the sled — easily 15 feet wide — would have had to be carted away on a semitrailer or some other large truck.
"Whoever wanted it, they wanted it real bad," Wade said.
If the sled isn't recovered, a new one will cost about $4,000, meaning the team's hopes of replacing its 8-year-old uniforms are on hold.
The Pirates can go another year without new uniforms, but the sled is an integral part of their daily practice, Wade said.
Wade played football at Pasco Middle School in the 1980s. He isn't sure if Bessie was the same sled that he crashed into then.
The school recently replaced the sled's pads, which dated to 1985.
"There's a lot of memories that go along with (the sled)," Wade said. "There's been a lot of great kids throughout the years who have had contact with that thing."
Bessie was reported missing to the school resource officer. The team has also placed fliers throughout the school asking for anyone with information to come forward.
But it may be too late, Wade said. He thinks Bessie was sold for scrap metal.
"What else are you going to do with a five-man sled?"
Helen Anne Travis can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 435-7312.