Players kick off a cleanup
SHAMOKIN - Forty Shamokin Area football players huddled in a close circle Sunday with new head coach Yaacov Yisrael. Together they raised their hands in unison atop one another's, some lifting brooms and garbage cans above their heads.
They weren't at Kemp Memorial Stadium. They weren't at the district's practice field. Instead, they were gathered near Independence and Shamokin streets in the city's downtown for a community cleanup.
"Breakdown! One, two, three! Clean up!" the group shouted in unison.
The volunteer effort is a part of a newly established Offseason Lettermen's Club, where team members who meet certain criteria will have their names engraved on a plaque to be hung at the school, Yisrael said.
"It's important for the guys to realize that it's important to give back," he said. "If it wasn't for Shamokin (and Coal Township), we wouldn't have this school. If it wasn't for this school, we wouldn't have a football team."
Sunday's effort will be lodged for the winter portion of the 2013 offseason. There will be another event later this spring, he said, adding that the team also will host a Parent Appreciation Night.
The players split into two groups of 20, moving west along Independence towards Market Street. There were plans to clean a portion of Market Street, too.
The teens walked slowly, being careful to pick up trash and debris and toss it into their garbage bags. Others used brooms to sweep dirt.
Shamokin City provided a truck to haul away the garbage. Hillside Coaches Association paid for brooms, garbage bags and a few trash containers.
Brian Burke, of Tharptown, a member of Hillside Coaches, said he has two sons on the team: junior Draven Miller and sophomore Keith Long. He accompanied the team as they worked on Independence Street and was pleased by what he saw.
"This is actually nice to see," he said. "With the new coach, he's involving everyone."