JHS boys, girls soccer teams help after recent storm
By Eric Thomas
On Thursday, June 29, the day started like any other day — people were going about their daily routine in the surrounding area. However, at midday, life got turned upside down for many.
To some, based on the intensity and severity of damage, what the area experienced felt like a tornado. In spite of what it might have seemed, the severe weather that started midday was classified by the National Weather Service out of Lincoln as a widespread, long-lived windstorm called a derecho. After the storm had passed, people jumped in to do their part in helping with cleanup efforts. Neighbors helping neighbor and, in this case, soccer teams helping their community.
The morning after was one of three days during the week that the Jacksonville High School Boys and Girls Soccer Teams would gather in Community Park for player-run conditioning. “We noticed the soccer field scattered with debris and several goals were blown about the complex receiving some damage,” recalled JHS Boys Soccer Head Coach Brexton Hall. Hall spoke to the coach of the girls’ soccer team at JHS, Drew Comstock — and without hesitation, they knew what needed to be done.
“We, as coaches, have been working to mesh the teams together as a soccer community,” added Comstock. “Instead of conditioning, we asked those who were there to help clean up the soccer fields and get all of the goals back to the original places.” With the number of students there, the fields were quickly returned to order and again playable for the soccer community here in Jacksonville.
Over the weekend following the storm, Hall was contacted by a soccer player’s mother with the idea that the soccer players could assist in the cleanup efforts at Community Park. “I loved the idea and said we could once again use the morning conditioning time to do so. … With a large number of players from both the boys’ and girls’ soccer teams, we could make an impact in just a couple of hours,” continued Hall.
A message was sent to each of the players and the coach made a deal with them — Hall proposed that in exchange for their normal training on Monday morning, they would help collect the tree debris in the park. “The message was met with a very positive response from the players. They were enthusiastic for the opportunity to do their part in the cleanup effort,” commented Hall. “They were asked to trade their cleats for cleanup clothes that day, and they were happy to do so.”
A combination of 30 players from both the boys and girls JHS soccer teams, plus a few soccer parents who jumped in to help, worked for approximately two hours cleaning up the damage in the park. “Our focus during the cleanup was to collect everything we could carry and reallocate those things to large piles around the park for the city crews to pick up,” said Hall.
Hall added, “We tried to save those workers an afternoon collecting sticks so they can concentrate on bigger problems and damage elsewhere.” Comstock interjected that players saw the amount of work that needed to be done and they worked hard during the time they were together.
Many people utilize Community Park for various reasons. The soccer teams do their conditioning workouts three times a week there. “This was a way for us to give back to the community,” Hall said.
As boys head coach, alongside Comstock, the girls head soccer coach, Hall emphasized that they believe that the game of soccer is only a part of what they are teaching the students within the teams. “It is imperative that our players see how important community service is,” Hall concluded. “We cannot just hold our hand out and ask for help. We have to be willing to lend a hand and give when we are able.”
Closing out the thoughts about their cleanup work, Comstock added, “The parents are to be commended for raising such great young men and women. Giving back to the community without hesitation is something that the students have learned not only as a team but from their home life, too.”