Playing basketball for the Magazine Rattlers this year means a couple of things. One, you’ll run a lot, and two, basketball is only part of the picture.
New boys coach Justin Mackey instituted a community service portion to the off season regimen and the city is reaping the benefits.
Last week most of his 18-player roster showed up at 5 p.m. one evening to tackle the overgrown area around the "Smith House." on Highway 10 across from an apartment complex.
Uninhabited for quite some time the home was draped in overgrown shrubbery and trees long in need of trimming.
"It was kind of an eyesore having to look at overgrown brush and stuff so this was something that was going to benefit the city as a whole," said Mackey.
"You can see the house now," Reese Nietert injects.
The house was the fifth project on Mackey’s list following work for the Boys & Girls Club, a couple projects at the school, and around the Gloria Perry Community Center.
Mackey said reaching out to the Boys & Girls Club was a natural idea and the school projects were easy to acquire and then Jayrod Moore added ideas in the city.
Brush from the Smith home was hauled via trailer to the city sewer department where it was burned by city officials.
A first year head coach Mackey said the projects are new for him too, "but it’s something I knew I wanted to do."
Back in the sport after a one-year hiatus, senior Tatum Scott is among the players involved in the projects and summer basketball work.
"I was hoping we were going to get out and do stuff," said Scott. "It’s team bonding and it’s good for the community."
"We’re doing a lot more," said junior Ashton Droemer. "This and basketball. We’re running a lot too."
"In the past few weeks we’ve probably down 500 down-and-backs," Scott adds. "Sometimes at the beginning (of practice) and sometimes again at the end."
That, Scott added, has meant he’s more ready for a season than he’s ever been.
"I actually want to go to practice. Even with all the coronavirus stuff going on he’s making it fun," said Scott.
"It’s fun and work at the same time," Droemer said.
Brady Watson, another senior, says everything is different, "but it’s a better different."
Like any small school, the athletes who are taking on the extra work also have other sport and activity responsibilities.
Scott plays football and runs track, Droemer plays football and runs track, Watson plays baseball and golf and is on the shooting sports team.
The work as been been noticed.
"Coach said that he’s been getting a lot of texts from people who are glad we’re doing something," said Scott.
What’s next on the list?
"From here we’re talking about several of the city streets that are off the main drag that are grown up and littered with trash, so we’ll move on to that next," said Mackey.