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Local sports teams start shoveling

The McDonald boys basketball and Niles football teams helped clear a slew of driveways after recent snowstorms

Submitted photo The McDonald boys basketball team helped shovel 20-25 driveways after the recent snowstorms to give back to the community.

As snowfall has blanketed the region over the past 10 days, two local high school coaches used the winter weather as an opportunity to give back to their respective communities.

Both the Niles football team and the McDonald boys basketball team have spent time in recent days shoveling snow from the driveways of those in their own neighborhoods.

“This isn’t the first time we’ve done this — we’ve done this in the past over the last four years. But I guess the last couple years we haven’t had as much snow,” Niles head football coach Jim Parry said. “I was looking on social media and there were a lot of people asking if they knew someone that could come out and clear their driveway — some were asking for elderly people.

“A lot of the teamwork stuff that we like to do, we haven’t been able to do because of COVID. So I thought the kids would be outside and this was something where they could get a workout in, so that was kind of the motivation for sending the kids out.”

On Jan. 17 and 18, the Red Dragons cleared about 118 driveways and sidewalks in the aftermath of Winter Storm Izzy, while the Blue Devils cleared about 20-25 driveways for the elderly on Sunday as the recent lake effect snow system blew through the area.

“We did a little competition,” Parry said. “We like to compete so that’s the reason why we had a number (like that) because everyone was keeping track so they could see how they did.”

For McDonald boys basketball coach Jimmy Franceschelli, it was a way to repay his gratitude to the community for something far more personal.

Last summer his wife had to undergo major surgery, and then in October the couple’s new baby was born in October with spina bifida. After that, the McDonald High School community held a fundraiser to help the family, among other things.

“The McDonald community was unbelievable in that process, and one thing I’ve tried to do as head basketball coach is to make our kids know that it’s about more than just basketball,” Franceschelli said. “We want to let our guys know that you have to give back and be a servant sometimes to the people in your community. I think some of them were pleasantly surprised to see young kids out there willing to lend a hand.”

Along with being able to give back to the community, Parry sees it as a teaching moment for his players, as well. Doing things like this helps show his players how good it can feel to help people.

“You get a lot of endorphins when you get on social media and you chase likes and stuff, but that stuff’s not real,” Parry said. “When you go out and actually help somebody, you get this feeling of what it means to be a helpful (and contributing) part of the community.”

It’s a new initiative for Franceschelli and his team, but shoveling driveways, among other things, is something they hope to continue to do for the McDonald community going forward into the future.

“Even if we have to do it around practice, I think it’s something that we can show the community that we’re there if they need us,” Franceschelli said. “Our administration at McDonald has been so supportive and when we put this idea out there, they were all for it and willing to lend a hand, as well.”

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