Sarah Black, CFNN Reporter

On Wednesday March 24, 2021, football practice looked a little different for the Cape Fear High School varsity football team. The coaches and players took a day off from practicing on the field and instead spent that time picking up trash on Clinton Road.

Coach Grates and the Defensive Backs on Clinton Rd.

The team split up into six different groups and spread out along the 2-mile stretch of road in front of the school. Each group picked up trash until their assigned section of the road was clean.

The Vander fire department was also involved, providing a safe walk for the players as they cleaned the roadside. They donated their vehicles and time to assist in making the cleanup effort a huge success.

“One of the goals in our program is to improve both on and off the field and make our community proud of us which is what I feel like we did today,” said Head Coach Jake Thomas. “We try to do this twice a year to make sure the area that leads to Cape Fear stays clean.”

Thomas explained that one of his goals when he became head coach was to take part in the Adopt a Highway program so that the Cape Fear Football program would be known for more than just their reputation as a tough, physical football team.

The Teams worked both sides of the road on Wednesday.

“This is my community, too,” said Thomas. “I wanted to make sure that our team shared that same pride in the Cape Fear Community. It is important for our players do the right things on and off the field because they won’t always be football players. Some day they will be professionals, fathers, and husbands. We want them to be good at those, too!”

It is easy to see how much trash was actually collected by the number of orange trash bags that can be spotted from Vander to Highway 24 in front of the school.

CFNN also spoke with Assistant Coach Joe Grates who was happy to discuss the cleanup effort. “We were able to get out and help our players be a positive influence on the community,” Grates said. “Making the area around the community and our school look better is a priority for the program. We were also just glad that we could do something good.”

Grates went on to say, “It was awesome to see the Fire Department out here!” What a great organization. It was very cool to have a personal escort out here to keep us covered.”

Winning games is not the only way for a team to make their community proud, which is what the Cape Fear Football team showed today. They were happy to help out the community and in talking with a few of the players, they all agreed they had fun. Our football program wants to make not only good players but good people.

Getting the players and coaches involved in in a community cleanup effort is their way of giving back to a supportive community that shows their support in the stands every Friday night.