Shoveling away the Pittsburgh winter blues

by Brentaro Yamane | layout editor

Feb. 17, 2022

During a snowstorm, it wouldn’t be surprising to see high school football players staying inside their homes, either training in their basements or playing video games in their rooms. 

However, when members of the Bethel Park High School football program saw snow fall this January, they took initiative.

On the day before Martin Luther King Jr. Day, tons of snow blanketed the western Pennsylvania area. Bethel Park Head Coach Brian DeLallo took action, going on Twitter, saying, “Due to the expected severe weather, Monday’s weightlifting workout has been canceled. Find an elderly or disabled neighbor and shovel their driveway. Don’t accept any money – that’s our Monday workout.”

Austin Caye and Gavin Moul, players on the team, were not surprised to see the tweet. They know the culture that their head coach is trying to build is predicated on helping others as a team.

“When Coach [DeLallo] first canceled lifting, our initial reaction was to get a group of friends and go door-to-door to start shoveling people’s driveways,” Caye said. 

“My reaction to Coach [DeLallo’s] tweet was not a surprise because we do this every year,” Moul said. “When it comes to the culture that Coach D and the coaching staff as a whole tries to implement on us, [it] is to be the toughest, most technical and unselfish to accomplish common goals with the team.”

Bethel Park serves a relatively large district of people. According to the United States Census Bureau, the township is home to 33,577 people (spanning across 13,633 households).

Players like Dom Capone and Aidan Currie did not mind shoveling. They felt good about helping the people in their neighborhoods.

“It was really nice to get out and do something for the community, considering all they do for us,” Capone said.

“Shoveling snow is the least we could do for the people living in Bethel,” Currie said. “Throughout the whole season and even in the offseason, the people of Bethel supported our team by donating to some of our fundraisers and coming to our games every week. So, it’s just nice to help out those who need it and to just help out in general.”

Other members of the team like Tyler Stewart and Coby Goelz noticed all the gratitude the neighbors gave them, with some even trying to give the team money for their services. No players accepted any of those offerings.

“The neighbors were ecstatic when they saw us shoveling snow,” Goelz said. “They were happy to hear that their local high school football team was in the community doing a good deed and not accepting money.”

“Most of the neighbors came out and were appreciative of the work we were doing,” Stewart said. “All the money that was offered was turned down because the work we were doing wasn’t for a reward. It was to bring our community closer.”

Many neighbors were so fond of what the players were doing that they posted photos and videos on social media. The good deed got attention from local outlets such as WTAE-TV, but also got national attention from outlets such as CBS News and The Washington Post.

The team even made an appearance on FOX & Friends to talk about their volunteer efforts.

“I was very shocked to hear that we would be on FOX & Friends,” Goelz said. “A simple good deed was on national television just like that.”

“The media attention was very odd because it is nothing out of the ordinary of our program and what we had done before,” player Braedon Del Duca said. “We all enjoyed our few weeks of fame, and we were all definitely shocked that it received as much attention as it did.”

Besides shoveling snow, the football team also goes to local parks during the spring to fix them up by putting in new mulch and/or sand.

With all the volunteering that the team does, it is easy for the community to want to see the football team succeed. This past WPIAL and PIAA football season, the Blackhawks made the WPIAL 5A football playoffs, but lost in the first round. While the team is still looking to hoist a football championship for the first time since 2008, they’ll still be continuing the tradition of helping others, with current players setting the precedent.

“I feel we are setting a great example of what it means to volunteer,” Caye said. “No matter how many times people asked to pay us and get us something to drink or eat for shoveling their driveway, we simply wouldn’t take it. We just wanted to do something nice for the community and will continue to do so in the future.”