Highland football players tackle Hinckley Hills cleanup

by Chris Studor

            Homeowners know all too well that spring yard clean up can be a major chore, having to pick up a winter’s worth of branches, sticks and leaves. Now imagine what it’s like having to perform spring cleanup on all 150 acres of Hinckley Hills Golf Course.

Though the task might seem daunting, the Highland High School football team proved that many hands make light work, giving the golf course a clean sweep as part of its annual community service project March 29.

Jean Esposito, superintendent of Hinckley Hills Golf Course, and Clubhouse Manager Sue Smith agreed that finding help in the form of paid employees has been difficult. Finding volunteers, they said, is almost unheard of.

Esposito said several months back, she had several large heavy pieces of scrap metal that proved difficult for her to remove from the property. She was familiar with Frank Oriti, a former Hinckley Citizen of the Year, who voluntarily collects scrap metal from surrounding communities and then uses the proceeds to benefit Highland athletes.

 “I gave Oriti a call and soon he was out with two strong, young football players,” she said. “[They] loaded the heavy items up and took them away. … I thought I would ask him about getting some players to help with spring clean up of the golf course.”

Arrangements were quickly made with Nathan Myser, president of the Highland Football Club, to arrange the clean up as one of the team’s 2024 community service projects.

“We normally do several service projects a year,” Myser said. “We want the community to know we do more than score touchdowns on Friday night.”

During the morning of the cleanup, football players Dylan Borla, Brady Bendau and Ryan Zywiec were found gathering sticks and branches. Along with their teammates, they rejuvenated the golf course just in time for spring.

“We’d like to let the community know we are ready to work both on and off the field,” said Borla.

“When the community comes to our games on Friday night and supports us, this is the least we can do,” Bendau added.

As the morning came to a close, the players were rewarded with a hot dog and pasta lunch cooked by no other than Frank Oriti.

“The scrap metal collecting has worked out so well with the company that we have worked out a system that when I drop a load off, they send the check directly to Highland athletics,” Orti said. “Today it’s just fun to be around the players and give them a good lunch for all their hard work.”

Highland Football Coach Mike Gibbons said the football team has been doing service projects the past four to five years.

“Our projects vary from having small groups go to homes to help residents in need with things like grass cutting and small repairs,” he said. “We are always looking to give back and help in any way possible.” ∞

Photo: About 50 Highland High School football players spent the morning of March 29 doing a spring clean up of Hinckley Hills Golf Course as one of their community service projects for the year. Included in the cleanup crew were Dylan Borla (left), Brady Bendau and Ryan Zywiec. Photos by Chris Studor.