Student athletes pitch in at parks
November 2, 2012 4:28PM
Cross county athletes and coaches from Minooka High School spent a free Saturday doing volunteer work for the Channahon Park District. | submitted photo
Updated: December 6, 2012 6:06AM
Returning to the Make a Difference Day theme from two weeks ago, I want to share what Minooka High School’s cross country team did to make a difference in the community.
On Sept. 22, more than 100 members of the MCHS cross country team, including coaches, spent a good part of the day doing work at various parks and facilities for the Channahon Park District.
It was the team’s way of giving back to the park district for providing them with a dedicated running track at Community Park, said head coach Kevin Gummerson.
The park district staff puts a lot of time and energy into preparing the course for high school events such as the Minooka Invitational, IHSA Regional meet and the team’s numerous weekday meets, said Gummerson.
The team had a bye week during September, so instead of taking the time off, they offered their help on a variety of projects that the park district needed done.
“It was our small way of saying thank you to them for their ongoing support,” Gummerson said.
The group of students and coaches did things like spreading mulch, trimmed low-hanging tree branches, repaired divots on the golf course, landscaped around the golf course clubhouse, painted picnic tables at parks, cleaned and swept pavilions and the amphitheater, cleaned and disinfected indoor areas at Arrowhead Community Center and Heritage Crossing Field House such as preschool rooms and toys, babysitting rooms and equipment, fitness equipment and community room tables and chairs, aerobic equipment and the running track, said MCHS Community Relations Director Dave DiLorenzo.
They also measured, marked with spray paint and recorded on a map quarter-mile distances and each road crossing on the Route 6 and Ford Road bike trails.
And they did it all following a 6 a.m. team run through Heritage Bluff Golf Course.
Channahon Park District Executive Director Chuck Szoke attended a MCHS board meeting earlier this month to praise the athletes and the coaches.
Szoke ran for the cross country team at MCHS as a freshman in high school and his coach was Gummerson’s father, Roy.
Seeing the students giving up their free Saturday to work at the park district, and doing everything with smiles on their faces, brought back memories for Szoke, who recalled the good influence the elder Coach Gummerson had on him.
Park district staff members were also touched by how hard the kids worked and how great they were to work with.
It was a fantastic opportunity for the athletes and the park district to work together, said Szoke, and it gave the students an opportunity to give back to their community.
“We know these are great kids,” Szoke told the board. “What a great way to instill some values of service.”
Reach Kris Stadalsky at firstname.lastname@example.org.