Seven players from the 2019 Chester High School basketball team accompanied Head Coach Brad Norman to Chester Grade School lst Thursday to greet students, sign autographs and say "thanks" for being loyal supporters throughout the 2018-2019 season.
Coach Norman said that having the team do several community involvement activities each season teaches the players to be good citizens, "and to give back to those who support us all year," he said.
"We came up with the idea to visit Chester Grade School and serve as role models to the kids who were very supportive to us."
Norman would have preferred to bring the whole team, but CHS administrators though have seven kids missing class was enough. So he through the seven players who received the top awards at the 2019 CHS Basketball Awards Night on April 3 - seniors Colin Wingerter, Drake Bollman, Keith Kiner and Jakob Cushman; juniors DeOndre Martin and Ian Reith, and sophomore Matt Korando.
The players and Coach Norman set up at the entrance to the Chester Grade School gymnasium, each with piles of team photos. The 2019 CHS Basketball video, created by Misti Price, played on the big screen in the background.
As the grade schoolers poured into the gym, they got to meet each player, get an autograph on a shirt, picture, program or autograph book, and receive a signed team photo.
"The boys were overwhelmed," Norman said. "The kids treated them like pro players or rock stars. At one point after lunch, the line to meet the players backed up around the biggest part of the perimeter of the gym."
Norman said they ran out of team photos, as more than 150 students wanted to meet the players when they were expecting 50-75.
Fifth grader Lannin Carter was happy to get to visit with DeOndre Martin. Trayton Peters and Caleb Richmond, also fifth graders, proudly showed off the autographed team photos they got from the players."
"This was good for the players, to see how much the grade schoolers look up to them and to know that these young students watch their every move both off and on the court," Norman said. "They truly are role models and have to live up to that responsibility."
Norman said that there was a large group of these same grade school students that sat right behind the basket at the south end of Colbert Gym for the whole season. He believes that the "Little Support Group," as he called them, made a difference in the outcome of games.
"We are really developing a solid program here at CHS and it is fantastic that not only the high school students and parents are behind us, but the younger students are behind us too and come to every game to sit behind the goal and cheer for us," he said.
"The boys love it and we try to thank all of our supporters after every home game with our walk around the gym. Chester is developing a basketball culture and I hope it continues to grow and thrive in years to come."