2006-03-03 / Education

Service is part of Dreher’s basketball team

By Amy Zhang

Service is part of Dreher's basketball team

Dreher High School seniors Benny Smith, Catoe White, juniors Tyrone Grant and Jamie Blackman, and sophomore Case Stiglbauer help cheer up a future basketball player.

The public often perceives athletes as insulated and even alienated from the realities of the world community. Seth Gilmer, the Dreher High School boys' basketball team coach, is intent on changing that view. He says, "My philosophy is that a lot of the times, the sports culture produces people who think that athletes should be treated special, but actually they are the ones who should give back more than they get." He continues, "You look at the NFL and the NBA, and you often get bad role models."

For two years, Gilmer has engaged his team in service-learning projects. Every season, they organize a charity scrimmage, and the price of admission is a nonperishable food item. The week before Thanksgiving, they deliver all the goods to the Harvest Hope Food Bank. They also have volunteered their time at the VA Hospital talking with veterans.

This year, the team visited the Children's Hospital and the Oliver Gospel Mission. "We brought the people there stocking caps and toothbrushes. These are things we all take for granted." The team tries to do a service project every month. Gilmer recounts the experience at the Oliver Gospel Mission, one of Columbia's Homeless shelters. "A lot of the guys were kind of scared down there, but once they saw me go up and shake hands with some of the people, they really warmed up. One guy said to me, 'Coach, once you get to know these guys, they're really like anybody else, they just hit a rough spot in their lives.'" Team members found out that many of the people of the mission did not finish high school.

Senior Benny Smith, junior Demetris Wilson, and sophomores Case Stiglbauer and Chris Hickman spend time in a hospital cheering up a patient and her mother.

Benny Smith, a member of the team, says that his favorite experience has been "seeing the smiles on the children's faces at the hospital. Others need help and want to be recognized, too."

Gilmore said, "Well, I can't say the experiences have helped us on the court. But when you see kids that are 10 years old and have cancer, you develop an appreciation for life. We all want to win, but it really puts life in perspective. It's just a game; it's not life or death."

Dreher Blue Devils spend time with a veteran. (l-r) Chris Smith, Benny Smith, Justin Salmond, Case Stiglbauer, Curtis Sharp, and DeAngelo Alston.

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