Shaler football team makes impact by giving back to community
Heading to Riverfront Park in Millvale to the Boys and Girls Club of Western Pennsylvania gave Shaler football coach Jon LeDonne an opportunity to teach several lessons.
There’s an obvious team-building aspect. More importantly, it gave his players an opportunity to play games with kids to help make an impact in the community.
“The last two or three years since I’ve been here, we’ve went out to local community youth things like that,” LeDonne said. “We also went to senior citizen homes. We want to get kids out in the community and get the community support behind the team as well.”
Restoring pride has been a major focus for the Titans (2-8 in 2015), who snapped a 33-game losing streak last season. Shaler last made the playoffs in 2011, and the Titans haven’t finished with a winning record since going 5-4 in 2010.
“It’s a good opportunity for them,” LeDonne said. “The youth kids don’t know anything about wins and losses. They just know they are looking up to a varsity football player. It gets them to realize they are role models for youth in the community.”
Last week, Shaler played games with the kids at the Boys and Girls Club.
The Titans played pick-up football, had water balloon fights and played cornhole.
“I like it,” junior linebacker Parker Kilgore said. “I feel like it’s good to give back to the community. When we were little, we once looked up to football players and the older guys. It’s good to give back to the community.”
Shaler sophomore offensive lineman Jeffrey Bonnette knows what it’s like to have a role model on the varsity team. His older brother played when he was younger, so he was around the team. That made him more enthused to go out for football.
“He had a lot of impact on me, football-wise,” Bonnette said. “I didn’t go out until I was in seventh grade. I played basketball throughout elementary school. My older brother was the key to me playing football.”
Josh Rizzo is a freelance writer.