News From Terre Haute, Indiana

September 22, 2013

Youth teams take on roadside trash

Dianne Frances D. Powell
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Young baseball and softball players teamed up against trash Saturday to help make their community cleaner.

Trading their uniforms for bright colored safety vests, players affiliated with the Indiana Havoc baseball and softball teams participated in the “Havoc Adopt-A-Highway Clean-Up.”

The players, their coaches and parents met at the intersection of Moyer Drive and Fagin Street in southern Vigo County around noon. After a brief orientation and safety reminders, the group consisting of around 30 players aged 12 and older walked a two-mile strip along Fagin Street, picking up trash along the way.

“This is our little strip. We do it every fall,” Indiana Havoc Director Tony Smodilla said.

The “Havoc Adopt-A-Highway Clean-Up” is in its third year.

Smodilla said that the community service project not only helps “clean up the community” but also teaches “the kids about giving back to the community, supporting the community and keeping the town clean.”

Founded four years ago, the Indiana Havoc is a Wabash Valley baseball and softball organization with teams that compete in regional and national tournaments. The non-profit organization works to help young players achieve their goals in baseball and softball.

The clean-up group was divided into smaller groups to cover the two mile stretch in about an hour.

“It’s a long walk. We’ll have a lot of trash,” Smodilla said.

Vigo County provided the group with trash bags, safety vests and tools to pick up trash. Full trash bags are picked up by county officials at a later date.

Some players participated in the community service project for the first time.

Softball player Alison Nevins, 14, stood among her friends before the start of  the project.

“I feel like it’s going to be a good time. And it’s also going to help out,” she said.

Another first-year participant is also eager to help.

Baseball player Cody Maloon, 15, normally plays catcher and first base but on Saturday, he caught trash.

Speaking just before starting the clean-up, he said he expected “a lot of trash.”

Unfortunately, he was not disappointed.

Cody and a group of fellow players picked up trash big and small.

“No trash gets left behind,” Cody said as his group picked up even the smallest piece of trash on the grassy roadside.

“Every bit helps,” said another baseball player, Tony Smodilla, son and namesake of the Indiana Havoc director.

The younger Tony, who has been participating in the clean-up for three years, said he is a bit surprised about how much trash is on the road.

“You would think, after doing it each year, it [the amount of trash] will be less and less. But each year they always come back. It never seems to stop,” the 14-year-old said.

But Tony values the experience the project gives him.

“It helps you give back to the community, which makes you feel good. It’s a good ... volunteer work for college [applications]; plus, it helps make the city look nice,” he said.

Tribune-Star Reporter Dianne Frances D. Powell can be reached at 812-231-4299 or dianne.powell@tribstar.com.