Wildcats trade pads for work gloves
Football team gives back to community
It was the night of July 7 when Jackie Modlin, manager of the Cassville MFA, received a phone call from Lance Parnell, Cassville football coach.
Like most who experienced the nearly seven inches of rain that soaked the area last week, Parnell quizzed Modlin about how high the water got at his feed store and how much damage had occurred.
Modlin repeated the same story to Parnell that he had recounted a dozen times earlier that day.
The water had come within three feet of entering his store but it did not get inside. However, wood posts and feeders that were outside had been scattered across over 300 feet of Flat Creek shore line behind his store.
Parnell asked Modlin if he could use a helping hand to clean up, and it was an offer Modlin could not refuse.
On July 7, the creek, which is considered to be at flood stage at 7 feet, crested in Jenkins at 1 p.m. at 19.84 feet.
On July 8, over 60 Wildcat football players spent several hours donating their time to clean up the city park and several area businesses that border Flat Creek.
"This is home," Parnell said. "It was an easy choice to cancel practice. This is where we live, and we owe this community so much."
While waiting for the players to arrive, the football coaches assembled in the coaching lounge to exchange their own personal flood stories.
All exchanged tales of the struggles to get home during the peak of the devastation. Trips that normally take five minutes became hour-long drives in a quest to find higher ground and safe passage.
One coach told of his family watching flooding coverage on a national television station and witnessing their in-laws' pop-up camper float by the camera and crash into a tree.
The water from Flat Creek came within 18 inches of flooding the Wildcat field house, but the day was about giving back and getting things back to normal.
"You get used to seeing the fans in the stands on Friday night," said Dalton Tolbert, a senior player. "They give us so much, [so] we wanted to do something to help and give back."
Tolbert's sentiment was shared by many of his teammates.
"We wanted to do something," said Austin Stockton, a freshman. "Coach asked if we wanted to help cleaning up -- we all said yes."
For Parnell, the lessons learned from the cleanup go beyond the football field.
"We've just scratched the surface of what needs to be done in the community to get back to normal," he said. "We could never repay the generosity that they have shown to us."
As the Wildcats broke their team meeting to head out to help, they were split into three groups.
One group stayed at the high school and helped pick up tools and equipment that had become dislodged from the maintenance shed.
The largest group went to the city park and began the task of picking up debris from the chain link fences and gathering the netting of what were the temporary fences. A third group began at MFA and T.H. Rogers, picking up the scattered effects that had washed down river.
"You can't put a value on the service these boys are performing," Modlin said. "They are learning to give back to the community and take pride in Cassville."
About 20 minutes into the crew's cleanup, the skies opened and it began raining.
Modlin called out to Parnell to see if he wanted to call off the work until another day, Parnell responded in typical form.
"We ain't gonna melt," he told Modlin. "This work won't get done by itself."