DENVER, Pa. (WHTM) – On a Saturday morning most high school students can be found asleep in their beds, especially those who just played in a football game the night before.
In early October, 10 Cocalico football players got up bright and early the day after their game and traveled to Spooky Nook Sports for something more important than sleep. These Eagles were headed to play a game with kids who are disabled with the United Disabilities Services Flag Football Program.
“You get to see a whole other side of the game,” Tim Porter, a Cocalico safety said. “You get to give back to the community and it feels good. These kids . . . they’re limited to things and when you get to see the enjoyment and excitement on their faces, [it] really makes your day.”
The players were each paired up with a buddy whom they helped out during a game of flag football by catching balls for them and other acts. Both Porter and his teammate Hunter Frable were a part of the handful of players who went last year to the event as well.
“I really enjoy it,” said Frable. “It’s about them, not really about me. I’m helping them out because they’re less fortunate than us. I’m glad that I got to go back this year.”
Frable, who plays left guard and defensive tackle for the Eagles, has a special connection with his buddy Matthew.
“I saw him last year and then it was nice to see him again,” Frable said. “It was funny because he wouldn’t remember my name and [I kept] asking him and then he finally remembered it and then we had a good time.”
Frable helped Matthew score a touchdown during the game.
This special partnership began when the director of the Challenger Flag Football Program reached out to Cocalico Head Football Coach Bryan Strohl last year. Strohl thought it was the perfect opportunity for his players to give back.
“Our team motto is ‘be more’ and we talk about being more not just on the football field, but also in the community and in the classroom,” said Strohl. “I think if you do those things when you’re this age, that carries on the rest of your life [and] you get used to working hard. You realize the benefits of giving back and helping out others.”
Strohl said there is a kid in the flag football league from Cocalico who especially enjoys when the Eagles are in attendance but stated that all of the kids’ faces light up when they see the players.
“I just think the whole program has a great message and a great purpose and I think it’s awesome to have our kids involved in that,” Strohl said.
The players said when they arrived, a lot of the kids thought they were from the NFL. However, once they realized they were from Cocalico a lot of the children remembered the players from last year.
Strohl wants this to become an annual tradition. He plans on trying to get some of the other local high school football programs involved as well because he’s seen first-hand the positive impact it has not only on the children who attend but also the high school athletes.
Strohl said his players are very close this season and hang out a lot outside of football, but this was a way they could use their time together to leave a positive impression in their community.
“Not everybody gets it easy, but it’s nice to help people out and make them feel on top of the world,” Frable said.