STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
Be the best you can be so you can best help the team.
That’s what Burnet High School head football coach Jerod Rye repeated to his players over and over again the past several weeks. It struck him, however, that maybe actions were better than words.
Noting that Martin Luther King Jr. Day — Jan. 21 — was coming, Rye set himself the task of finding victims of the October flood who could use the strength of a football team in their cleanup efforts. He found two such people living on Lake LBJ in Kingsland.
Rye wanted his players to answer a question posed by the civil rights leader on the day honoring him: “Life’s most persistent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?’”
After an early morning weightlifting session Monday, 40 Bulldogs split into two groups and set out on their missions.
One group went to a home near three empty lots to remove trash that had washed ashore into those lots.
The other group went to a home to pick up debris and put it into burn piles. The debris came from six trees that had been knocked down, docks that were destroyed, and other trash.
Rye said the players discovered this type of work isn’t any easier than pushing a blocking sled or going through mat drills.
“I wanted them to use their muscle and get work done,” he said. “We were looking to go do things to go help (homeowners) out. We feel like we’re going to help them.”
The coach reached out to representatives of the Hill Country Fellowship Church in Burnet to see which residents could use the football team’s help. That church contacted the Highland Lakes Crisis Network, which was assembled to raise money, coordinate volunteers, and distribute donations to flood victims. The network put the Bulldogs in touch with two homeowners who suffered losses during the flood. The players worked along side the Texas Baptist Disaster Relief Ministry based in Burnet. Those members escorted Rye and his players to the homes.
“They’re going to do a bunch of work that’s not about them,” Rye said. “It’s about serving others. People need help. We have a chance to help them. We got a ton out of it, and they’re helping someone else.”
Burnet High School Principal Casey Burkhart said students could use Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a service opportunity. The football program was one of several organizations exemplifying King’s words.