When the Hastings High boys basketball team entered play this season, head coach Lance Creech wanted to give his team a lesson in servant leadership.
After the post-game meeting with Creech at home games, the Tigers have gone into the stands, trash bags in hand, and cleaned up after fans.
"I just think it's important for our kids to understand how much work goes into running an event, how much work our custodians have to do to keep our facilities looking good," Creech told the Hastings Tribune. "We just call it servant leadership. (The custodial staff) do so much to give us clean gyms to play in and practice in every day and it doesn't take us long."
The Hastings Tribune reports that concerted efforts by students and players to clean up after high school basketball games aren't unique to Hastings High. Other schools do it, as well.
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In fact, Creech said he got the idea from Aurora when its players cleaned up the Hastings High gym after a game against the Tigers.
"It was kind of a neat gesture and I just thought we should at least clean up our own place and leave it a little cleaner than we got it," he said.
When Creech proposed the idea to activities director Tracy Douglas, she loved it.
"I think it's great," she said. "Actually, the boys basketball team had decided they wanted to do that this year and then the cheerleaders have decided to help them out. So the cheerleading squad gets most of it done before the players get back out here and do it. Giving back is the focus of the school and the custodians do such a great job and so (students) want to make (custodians') cleanup at the end of the night a lot easier.
"I thought it was a great idea, just giving back. We try to have our sports programs not just be about that game but really thinking about the school and community, as well. I think it's a great gesture as far as giving back to the school."
In fact, recently it was the Tiger cheerleaders who had the gym cleaned up just a few minutes after conclusion of the game — before the players even came out of the locker room.
"I think it's a great way to help out the basketball players because they would have to stay after the game and they're already tired," said junior Beatriz Ramirez.
She was among cheerleaders carrying out trash bags after cleaning up popcorn that spilled at half court after one of the other bags broke.
"I think it gives them a nice break from their hard game and gives them more time with their coach to discuss what happened," said junior Dylan Lemke.
Douglas said she thinks student involvement has had a positive effect on the behavior of fans.
"I see on the way out, a lot of fans say 'Hey, I'm going to help with this' and they throw stuff away to help the kids out," she said.
While the cheerleaders agreed the trash load wasn't that bad, they still feel those attending games could do more to help in that effort.
"There's still some trash," said senior Josie Bosilevac. "I guess they could get better, but they're not there yet."
Information from: Hastings Tribune, http://www.hastingstribune.com
An AP Member Exchange shared by the Hastings Tribune.