Local Football Teams Volunteering at Geist Half
Writer / Janet C. Striebel
Some of our local high school football teams are coming together to help at the 2015 St. Vincent Geist Marathon. These teams are from Fishers High School, Lawrence Central High School, Lawrence North High School and Warren Central High School. Although they may dress in full gear and compete against each other during football season, on Saturday, May 16, they will unite together to volunteer their time as course marshals.
“Course marshals are crucial during the race,” said Aprill M. Shelburne, executive director of St. Vincent Geist Marathon. “We need to recruit over 100 course marshals to help keep our runners safe. Fortunately, many of our local football teams help alleviate the stress of recruiting volunteer marshals by stepping up to take on those critical responsibilities.”
The role of a course marshal is multidimensional. First, they are part safety officers as they are positioned throughout the course usually at intersections.
They are responsible for directing runners at turns. Second, they help keep runners on course. Third, they are part traffic cops in the way that they help keep cars off the course and maintain a safe environment for runners. Finally, they are like cheerleaders in the way that they help cheer the runners on and help motivate them during this long race.
“We’ve helped volunteer for the last four or five years at the Geist Marathon,” said Rick Wimmer, head varsity football coach at Fishers High School. “This provides an opportunity for our guys to give back to the community. Also, the money raised helps schools in our area.”
Wimmer mentions other ways his Fishers team gives back such as with the “Polar Plunge,” an annual event that helps raise money for Special Olympics by finding sponsors for players as they plunge into freezing water. Wimmer says that this event is planned by Pat Schooley, who was an assistant coach for six years and has truly dedicated to organizing this event for the past eight years.
“I run in the Geist Marathon along with assistant coaches and teachers,” said Wimmer. “It’s fun to see our kids along the course, cheering us on. I always look forward to it.”
The football team at Lawrence Central is active in assisting literacy across the township on many evenings for elementary schools. Also, they help with STEM and ISTEP Preparation.
“Our core value here is ‘Be a giver, not a taker,’” said Jed Richman, head varsity football coach at Lawrence Central High School. Richman has teamed up with Will Patterson, who helps lead community outreach. Patterson is also the head boys track coach and head junior varsity/linebacker football coach.
“Much of our service-focus is driven by a need in our own backyard,” said Richman who admires how his team has benefited from helping elementary kids learn to read. He says that as much as the players are giving, they’re getting back so much more in return because they realize what important role models they are to the younger kids who idolize them. “There are a lot of great kids at Lawrence Central that deserve the credit, not me,” Richman said. “I’m just blessed to coach them.”
The football and boys track teams at Lawrence North also help volunteer at the Geist Marathon. They help their community in various ways. The Wildcat Football Parent Club along with athletes developed the “Coach Patrick Mallory Pay-It-Forward Program,” which aids in collecting school supplies, raising money and awareness for breast cancer, holding multiple food-drives supporting their in-house “And Go Cats Food Pantry,” and a toy-drive during the Holidays benefiting kids around different communities. In addition to the Geist Half, these athletes volunteer their time with the “Unite and Ignite 5K Fun Run” along with the Lawrence Township Education Foundation.
“Our main focus is how we branch out to help kids not only in Lawrence but in other communities as well,” said Pat Mallory, head football and boys track and field coach at Lawrence North High School. “If we help to develop a well-rounded educational experience, then that provides help not only for our kids today, but also for the future. I believe we need to help the educational process from the earliest years which will ultimately influence our community for years to come.”
The Warren Central football players also help serve their community. Beyond reading to elementary students during the season, they also help in the off-season.
“Anytime we can build relations outside of school and football and give back to the community it really pays dividends in the fall,” said Ryan Barclay, social studies teacher and assistant varsity football coach at Warren Central High School.
Barclay and his friend, Simon Lee, another assistant coach, help serve as philanthropic liaisons between their Warren football team and community. Together, they organize opportunities for volunteering such as “Pride of the East Side” where they help clean trash around the community and “Polar Plunge.”
Barclay adds, “Having our team volunteer in the community is like depositing into an emotional bank. You’re establishing a bond that really binds these kids together a long way when it becomes crunch time in the fall.”
These four football teams deserve credit for all that they do not only for their schools but within their community as well. Each team may have a different approach to how they help, or even why. Yet, they all share the concept of giving of themselves as they tackle the needs of others in order to improve our society.