Fayetteville athletes give back to the community
by Erich Hilkert
Jun 21, 2013 | 2557 views |  0 comments | 167 167 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Mason Vick (left), Tyler Pennington (right), helps Grayson Shaw place a trash can on the back of a truck Tuesday afternoon after cleaning up the campus of Fayetteville High School.
Mason Vick (left), Tyler Pennington (right), helps Grayson Shaw place a trash can on the back of a truck Tuesday afternoon after cleaning up the campus of Fayetteville High School.
FAYETTEVILLE — At Fayetteville High School, many of the students might consider themselves aficionados of all things outdoors. Jonathan Harbin and Seth Butts won scholarships by capturing the individual state championship for bass anglers. The archery team received an invitation to the national tournament in Louisville. The perennial playoff-qualifying baseball team wears a natural wood camo uniform nearly as often as the signature white jerseys with school colors.

So, then, perhaps it isn’t surprising that Harbin and his teammates on the gridiron don’t mind getting their hands dirty outdoors in a way that benefits those in the Fayetteville community.

“I think it’s good what we’re doing for Fayetteville and the community because some people can’t get outside,” Harbin said. “We went and cut a guy’s grass. He was bed-ridden and couldn’t come outside. We went and cut his grass for him. We went and put up a sign at the church, straightened up the signs coming into the school. I think it’s just good that we give back to the community because they come and support us on Fridays.”

Head coach John Limbaugh has implemented a program that requires his players to perform six hours of community service, which amounts to nearly 300 hours for the entire team.

“Our kids here though have a very good work ethic, and they’re into our program,” Limbaugh said. “They enjoy this part of it. Wins don’t just happen on the field, but wins happen when we help someone else out, when we do the right thing. That’s what we’re all about here is trying to teach our kids to become young men.”

In addition to trying to help the fans who pack the stands at FarmLinks Field on Friday nights during the season of autumn, Fayetteville wants to help local businesses that support the football team.

“We have a lot of people that buy signs that go around the football field, and they do these things for us,” Limbaugh said. “So, we’re going to give back to them. We’ll have our kids at some of these businesses pick up trash in their business parking lot or yard. We’ll do things like that too. I do want our community to understand that these kids are not going to put a good product on the field only; they’re going to actually come out and put hands on and help people. That’s what it’s about.”

Football team member Austin Brasher believes community service provides an inherent reward through the simple satisfaction of helping others.

“Here at Fayetteville, we do community service, and I feel that it’s a good thing for our community because old people can’t get out and do some of the usual things,” Brasher said. “It makes you feel good inside when you know you’re giving back to the community — all the support they give to us. We go out and cut grass, just rake around their yard, help clean them up a little bit. I know they want to get out, but they can’t, so it’s really good for us to go out and help out with that. I think we’re doing a good thing at Fayetteville.”

In addition to yard work and picking up trash, football team members have also worked on painting, fixing signs, cleaning the school, and reading to children at the elementary school level.

“Fayetteville High School’s football team has participated in reading for the younger children for the 2012-13 football season, and I’m awfully certain we’re going to do it for the 2013-14 season,” Tyari Powell said. “It’s just fun reading to the kids and seeing the looks on their faces when they see those pages being turned and being read to. They love it, and we love giving back to the community.”

Fayetteville community member Leslie Hassell credits Limbaugh, believing Fayetteville is fortunate to have such a community-oriented coach.

“Our football team does community service throughout Fayetteville,” Hassell said. “They do several different things: they pick up trash within so many miles of the school, they plant trees, they work around the senior citizens. Coach (Limbaugh) has them doing many different things as far as what they do to serve the community and to really help. Coach Limbaugh is phenomenal. I think we have been blessed in having him here at Fayetteville.”

Hassell’s husband, Bo Hassell, said Limbaugh’s efforts aren’t just limited to the football team; Hassell has had several members of the Fayetteville softball team provide community service tasks at his restaurant, The Wolves Den.

Limbaugh hopes to teach his players lessons that will apply to long after they’ve left the field.

“It’s making a whole person,” he said. “It’s not just making a better football player; it’s making them better human beings. That’s seriously what the program is all about. So, we’re real excited about it.”