Westborough – Whether it’s providing funding or just cheering them on in good times or bad, student athletes depend on the support of their community. On Aug. 19, members of the various Westborough High School (WHS) athletic teams returned the favor, by participating in the second annual “Rangers Give Back.”
Olivia Natale, the organizer of this year’s event, said that the goal of “Rangers Give Back” is to spend a day volunteering in town to thank the community for their support of Westborough athletics.
“It’s a way that we can show our gratitude towards their tremendous impact,” she said.
The volunteer event is a “great way for students to come together and bond,” especially right before the sports team tryouts and the school year begins, she noted.
Natale is a rising sophomore at WHS and a member of the soccer, indoor track, and outdoor track teams. Her sister, Mia, who graduated in 2013, helped organize last year’s premier event.
WHS Athletic Director Johanna DiCarlo asked Natale if she would be willing to organize this year’s “Rangers Give Back.”
“I was ecstatic, not only because my sister had worked so hard on it last year, but I was really inspired by it and I thought it was an amazing way to get the teams bonded and to show our gratitude to the community for everything they have done for the athletics,” said Natale.
Katie Bretta, a rising junior and a member of the soccer and track and field teams, also organized the event, coordinating a service project in which students performed yard work for senior citizens. She enjoyed seeing the teams come together, especially before tryouts, held at the end of that week.
The event this year was expected to draw at least 100 students to participate in volunteer work ranging from mulching, gardening, and cleaning grounds to filing paper and picking up trash. Athletes worked at the Westborough Department of Public Works, Beaumont Rehabilitation and Skilled Nursing Center at Westborough, the Forbes Municipal Building, and all six Westborough public schools.
Bretta said that she was “happy to see the program just as big as last year.”
According to Natale, the projects at WHS included cleaning up the fitness center and touching up the murals inside the school that were painted as part of last year’s “Rangers Give Back.”
“It’s really just to make everything more beautiful and give people a helping hand,” said Natale.
DiCarlo, who coordinated the service project logistics, said that last year’s event “set the tone of the school culture” since students “recognized the importance of giving back” and not volunteering merely out of self-interest.
All participants received a “Rangers Give Back” t-shirt that they wore while serving the community. Natale said that they are helping their local t-shirt and apparel business at the same time, since there are many participants who gave the company publicity by wearing the shirts.
Natale cited her favorite aspect of the event was the awareness of community support.
“It’s an eye opener for a lot of people to realize truly how much the community does for Ranger athletics,” she said.
She said that the athletics program is greatly supported by the Westborough Athletic Boosters Association and by community members who attend games.
Natale emphasized how the program is more than just an opportunity to build one’s resume or academic career.
“Sports gives [students] so much joy and a deep breath away from school. We can thank the community for that because [otherwise] we wouldn’t have that funding or support,” she added
At the end of their volunteer work, the athletes came together for an ice cream social sponsored by the Westborough Boosters.