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Plant City Observer Thursday, Jul. 5, 2018 4 months ago

What’s on Kline’s Mind? ‘Giving back’ starts positive trend

Many local sports camps and teams are paying it forward for future generations.
by: Justin Kline Sports/Associate Editor

“We just wanted to give back to the community” is something I hear a lot these days.

Everybody in our sports scene has a different motivation for doing it, but the end goal is always the same: help the next generation get and stay on the right track. Will Terry told me Charger Wrestling Club, which you may have already read about in today’s paper, is still going because he wants kids to have a positive outlet he didn’t get to grow up with. Mike Gottman and Kirk Broussard and others who run football camps in our area have told me they give back because anything they can do for our kids now will go a long way on and off the football field in the near future. Every December, various teams from Durant, Plant City and Strawberry Crest high schools go out of their way to serve the community through toy and food drives, volunteer work, Christmas parties and more, all because they feel giving back is the right thing to do.

That this happens at all isn’t unique to Plant City, but I think the rate at which we see sports giving back is.

I’ve been here for almost five years now. Though I’ve seen a lot of things change out here, one thing that’s never changed in Plant City is the spirit of the community. You never have to look very far to find people actively trying to help others just because it’s the right thing to do. This is a big part of what I think a lot of folks around here mean when they talk about wanting to preserve the city’s “small-town feel” — I’ve lived in six different towns over my 27 and a half years and nowhere ever felt as close-knit as this one.

What makes it all work is not just that our athletes are stepping up when asked to, but that they seem to enjoy it. I don’t know if our kids are enthusiastic about it because someone did something similar for them when they were younger or if they just have hearts for service, but these Plant City athletes are the real deal. I think it’s proof we have a lot of great coaches and parents out here setting the bar high for the kids, so I’d say it’s reasonable to expect today’s athletes to set the same example for their own kids down the road.

Let’s keep teaching our kids about compassion for others and the benefits of service. Let’s keep showing them what good sportsmanship looks like, on and off the playing field. Though it might not be obvious right away, this is making sure Plant City remains a great place to live and raise a family.

Justin Kline is the Sports/Associate Editor at the Plant City Observer. He has been covering all things sports-related in the Winter Strawberry Capital of the World since 2013.

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