With each season, teams have a priority list, things they hope to accomplish during the few months they play. Things such as winning games, improving skills, and making it to the postseason are high priorities for the average team. For the varsity boys basketball team, community service is high on their list.
Head coach Travis Carr has had his players helping the community for many years. He hopes that his players will learn about creating positive change in their community by the time they graduate and leave the basketball program.
“I think it’s important for these young men in our program to utilize our platform, and to give back their time to the local community,” Carr said. “With so much support from these local organizations, it’s the least we could do is offer our assistance in what they need.”
Senior Johnny Soto has been on the varsity team for the past three years since he moved to Prince George. Outside of the basketball season, Soto is actively involved in helping his community and feels a sense of fulfillment every time he volunteers and he recommends everyone try it at least once in their life.
“[For] me personally, it just opens up my eyes because you don’t really know how bad off some people are in comparison to your own life,” Soto said. “I learned to not take things for granted, when I look at what I have compared to what other people don’t have.”
So far this season, the boys have helped the Hopewell Optimist Club by moving Christmas trees into their lot and the team held the first annual Battle of the Classes on November 22nd, to help benefit the ASK Childhood Cancer Foundation. They have become bonding experiences for those returning and new players as well.
“[Community service] is helping us grow closer as a team on and off the court,” junior Keondre Ruff said.
Starting in January, the team will be heading to Walton to help with what is known as Carr’s Kids. This mentoring program has been happening for the past four years,with the idea coming from one of Carr’s fellow coaches, former Virginia Tech head coach, Buzz Williams. This year there is one major change; the fifth graders will be spending the day with each of the players.
“Basically, we all take one kid,” Soto said. “Sometimes they might not have a father figure at home, or maybe they do, but they’re having a troubled time at school, and they just need a role model.”
During this holiday season, the boys believe that it is better to give than to receive. Outside of Carr’s Kids, helping the Hopewell Optimist Club, and Battle of the Classes, the team plans to help with other organizations and events. They will be holding their annual “Toys for Teens” drive benefiting VCU’s Children’s Hospital and helping with the Can Food Drive for the Prince George Food Bank.
While the team has a schedule packed with community service, there is still more they are hoping to accomplish. Carr is hoping to make Battle of the Classes an annual event. The boys believe in searching for new opportunities to make an impact.
“I would like to feed the homeless because it is a big issue and it hurts me to see it,” Ruff said.