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Community Service Ideas for High School Sports Teams

By Lisa Myran-Schutte, CAA on January 23, 2020 hst Print

Not only are coaches expected to teach a particular sport, they are expected to teach life skills. One of the key components for coaches is to teach the student-athletes about service. Teaching the concept of giving back to the community and expecting nothing in return is important.

Many times, a team that is not cohesive has not been able to do things as a team in a non-competitive atmosphere. Community service is a team-building event. Is it worth skipping a practice? Maybe, especially in the long run and if it is the beginning of the season. Should you do it right before playoffs? Maybe, especially if your team is over-the-top stressed. Should you do community service as a team? Absolutely.

So, you decide that moving out into the community with your team is a good idea. Now what? Following are possible community-service projects for your team. Some require more effort on the coach’s part than others. These are some basic ideas; each person will need to personalize to make them work in their community.

  • Rake leaves: In September, rake leaves for anyone who needs it. The coach may need to pre-arrange where to go.
  • Shovel a driveway and sidewalk (project for Northern states): See it, do it, get it done. Imagine getting up at 6:00 a.m. and shoveling before anyone is awake after a snowfall and then taking the team out for breakfast.
  • Cleaning up the gymnasium after a basketball game. Give the custodian a day off. Embrace the need for many hands. Offer the custodian a snack as he supervises. The coach may need to contact the head custodian to make him or her aware.
  • Deliver salt (another project for Northern states). Work with the local hardware store to deliver salt and pour it in the softeners at no charge.
  • Visit the local nursing home and read the sports section to the elderly. This may put some teenagers out of their comfort zone, so do it enough to make them comfortable.
  • Visit the local nursing home in game uniforms as a pregame visit. Create the relationship with the elderly.
  • Offer to decorate outside of houses for the holidays (no ladders). The coach will need to pre-arrange this activity.
  • Provide a day where the team serves lunch to elementary kids. The coach will need to work out details with the elementary school.
  • Load a bus and serve a meal at a shelter. The coach will need to pre-arrange this activity.
  • Adopt a family for the holidays (or all year). With donated money, take the team shopping and find as many items on the list for the family. Wrap and deliver the items as a team.
  • Provide teachers with a snack delivered by the team.
  • Offer to hand pick sweet corn for the local food shelf.
  • Create sack lunches for the lower-level teams on the bus. You could create your own lunches, too.
  • During a home event in the winter, brush the snow off of cars. When the game is over, everyone’s car is clean. (look out for car alarms)
  • Create cards for soldiers serving overseas and mail them as a team. • Designate a game night to local firefighters, first responders and police officers. Treat them to cake afterwards and allow them to get in free. Players will serve the cake and sit with them to visit.
  • Designate a night to bring awareness to a specific cause, such as cancer awareness. Invite the opposing team to join in.
  • Create an atmosphere within your team to “play for something more.” Designate a cause chosen by a team member every week. Honor the cause and explore why that cause is important.
  • Serve the actors of the musical breakfast on the morning of opening night. Attend the show together as a team.
  • If your team has late practice, sit with elementary kids and read with them after school.
  • Serve water at a local running event. Be the designated “cheerleaders” for the people running.
  • Practice with youth watching. Invite them to a shortened practice to get a sneak peek and hang out afterwards for pizza. The goal of this activity is to show youth to make good decisions and work hard.

Certainly, putting one more thing on a coach’s plate is a concern. However, this can be very meaningful for coaches as well and can reduce burnout. It allows for the team to grow together and see the “real” side of their coach. It is meant to teach service and create humbleness within the students. Encourage coaches to take a break for others and then back to the grind, but with more team unity.