C. R. basketball coach and players visit care center residents

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Clayton Ridge junior varsity and varsity Eagles basketball players spent the afternoon at the Guttenberg Care Center on Thursday, Jan. 2. The boys enjoyed a game of kickball and Kentucky Derby with the residents while Coach Spersflage set up the care center computer to include viewing access to past high school athletic competitions. (Press photo by Caroline Rosacker)

By Caroline Rosacker

Community service is an important component of an adolescent's life. It provides them with an opportunity to become actively connected to society and has a long-lasting positive impact on the community they live in. Volunteering also enables young adults to acquire valuable life skills, knowledge, and provide service to individuals who are most vulnerable. 

Kyle Sperfslage, Clayton Ridge High School social studies and physical education teacher and Eagles boys' basketball coach, understands the importance of community service. He told The Press, "I spoke with the team at the beginning of the basketball season about doing some type of community service. I didn't care what it was, just that we need to give back to our community." 

A family member who had a loved one residing at the Guttenberg Care Center approached Sperfslage. "This person noted that some of the residents who were unable to attend Clayton Ridge sporting events in person, would like an opportunity to watch them on television," he said.  

Seniors living in a care facility can experience feelings of isolation. The convenience and pleasure of watching their grandchildren, nieces and nephews, or neighborhood children participate in high school sports keeps them connected to the community. 

The Eagles coach seized the opportunity and turned it into a learning experience for his players. "I decided to bring the junior varsity and varsity players to the care center and give them an opportunity to interact with the residents one-on-one, while I set up the care center computer to include access to the high school games." He added, "They will not be able to view the games in real time but will get to see the games in their entirety and pause and rewind portions of the game if they choose." 

Coach Sperfslage gave credit to Derek Pierce for his dedication recording the sporting events. "Derek does a great job and has for several years now. He also gets as excited as anyone when we win. I love hearing his cheering when we make a big play!" he said.

Joann Svoboda, Guttenberg Care Center activity director, quickly organized a rousing game of kickball with the basketball players and the care center residents. Svoboda commented. "The residents enjoy playing kickball. It's fun and everyone gets to participate." 

Social worker Josie Einwalter rounded up her golden retriever Doc. He was a big hit with the players, and the residents enjoy the friendly, mild-mannered canine. 

The players and the residents took a brief pause in the action as Coach Sperfslage brought up a recently played game on the big screen for the residents to view. 

Frank Spielbauer and Donald Dahlstrom were quick to comment on the high school game. Donald, who played basketball in the Special Olympics, shared a few animated game stories using his arms to demonstrate his shooting technique. 

Sperfslage described the game on the screen. "We were playing against Kee High in this game." Svoboda piped in, "We were at that game! The residents really enjoyed it!" 

The care center staff and residents enjoy the school's new gymnasium and its updated handicap facilities. One of the residents inquired about the lack of sound on the video. Sperfslage explained, "We record the games from the bleachers. We shut the sound off so we don't compromise personal comments and conversations." 

The coach brought up a football game for the residents to watch. The young players became entranced by the game while the residents enjoyed watching their athletic abilities. Oakley Harbaugh commented to the group, "By the way – we're in the black." His comment got a hearty laugh from everyone.

The residents and the basketball players ended their afternoon with a friendly, competitive game of Kentucky Derby.

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