HILLARY SMITH: Pioneers answer the call for help

2014-01-12T21:00:00Z HILLARY SMITH: Pioneers answer the call for helpHillary Smith Times Columnist nwitimes.com
January 12, 2014 9:00 pm  • 

With senior citizens stuck indoors and feet of snow covering their sidewalks, the Clark football team collected as many shovels as necessary and started working.

The snow from driveway after driveway, alley after alley was diminished in Robertsdale because of a phone call and a coach who couldn't say "no."

Pioneers football coach Jay Novak, whose father Richard Novak is on the North Township board, took a call from Trustee Frank Mrvan.

"He said that there were a lot of seniors in need, they needed to get prescriptions, they needed to get food and they were all pretty much snowed in," Jay Novak said. "He needed help and I offered the guys. The biggest thing we try to do is teach high character. They all jumped on the job and it was a great experience seeing smiles on everyone's faces when we showed up. It felt great to help out our neighbors and the kids had a great experience."

The Pioneers weren't outside in sub-zero temps on Monday and Tuesday. The call came late last week, so after attending school on Thursday and Friday, the players took to the streets with their shovels.

They had a list of 12 houses, but with snow drifted as high as 5 feet against some garages, and the alleys packed with slush, snow and dirt, there was no way to not help an entire neighborhood.

They started after school let out at 2:30 p.m., and worked until after dark.

Most houses took about two hours to clear, Novak said, and his family helped provide popcorn and snacks when the 15 helpful players started to feel the pangs of hunger, and there was pizza and a warm house at the end of the day of service.

Novak added that Principal Robert Wilson could not have been more helpful and supportive to the players, the coaching staff and the community.

"He was such a big advocate of what we were doing," Novak said. "If he didn't have meetings, I know he'd have been out there shoveling with us."

Some of these players are also wrestlers or basketball players. They came after practice. They came as soon as they could.

Then, when they weren't even asked to, they came back for more.

On Saturday, when the list was complete, players were calling hoping to head back out again.

"They called and said 'Coach, there are probably a couple more people that need help,'" Novak said. "I told them they need to go out on their own, help the people around them, that are near them."

This wasn't about fulfilling a community service requirement at the school, it was about answering the call.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach her at hillary.smith@nwi.com.

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