High school football: Olympus seniors put best foot forward in community service
“There’s been a significant number of students involved,” Manning said. “That’s what makes you feel good about it. They’ve done the work, and next the students have a chance to see where their money and effort goes.”
He said the students plan to spend time with the students who receive the shoes.
“It’s also about the friendship aspect of it,” Manning said.
That’s something Haller is looking forward to experiencing with his classmates when they deliver the shoes on May 2.
He said the way his teachers, coaches and administrators have handled service opportunities have made them memorable and impactful.
“You’ve got to have good service projects that kids believe in and that are meaningful to us,” he said. “It’s always valuable.”
It’s another service opportunity through a class at Olympus that’s made maybe an even more lasting impact on Haller, who plans to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints this summer with the hope of walking on at USU or Utah when he returns.
“We visited Highland (Retirement Center) once a week,” he said. “At first it was a struggle, just kind of awkward. Sometimes they didn’t respond to us, so it felt like I was basically having a conversation with myself.”
The students told stories, listened to their stories, played bingo and exchanged jokes. Soon a bond was formed that allowed them to do a favor for some of the residents at Christmastime.
“Some of them wanted to go to the Festival of Trees, so a few of us did it on our own time,” he said. “It was a really cool opportunity.”
He said it made him think about what they were like as youths and that he might be in their situation someday.
“I realized I never really have the chance to communicate with older people,” he said. “I was grateful to hear their stories, bond with them and make new friends.” His experience is exactly the reason the Utah Football Foundation puts so much of an emphasis on service.
“A lot of times with young athletes, they get so caught up in the accolades that come their way, they get a big head,” Park said. “It’s an easy thing to do, especially for young kids. These kids have that kind of success, but they’ve balanced that success with the ability to serve other people at the same time.”
In addition to honoring the 13 scholar-athletes, the banquet will honor USU alum Bobby Wagner, who helped the Seattle Seahawks earn a Super Bowl title in February. He will meet with students before the banquet and then speak to those who attend, most of whom are high school players, parents and coaches.
Most of the Utah college coaches will attend as a show of support for the efforts of the organization and the accomplishments of the student-athletes, many of whom will play locally.
The banquet also honors outstanding juniors who meet the same requirements. Mike Jacobsen, the former athletic director at Utah Valley University and a founding member of the Utah chapter, will be honored for his contribution to amateur football. Wagner will be honored with a Distinguished American award. John Colosimo, the head coach at Juan Diego, will be honored with a Service to High School Football award. And Bob Blair will be honored as an official who has served high school football, as well.
Park said the focus on service is something started by the national foundation.
“We’re just mirroring the national foundation and what they’ve tried to recognize,” he said.
A complete list of award winners will be in Wednesday’s Deseret News.
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