By BRETT CARROLL
Four local high school football teams blocked out their rivalries on the field and joined forces as one team on the beach.
On May 20, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. members of the Raritan High School, Holmdel High School, Keansburg High School and Keyport High School football teams joined together to clean the Keansburg Beach before the summer season kicks off.
The irony is that the teams are all rivals during Thanksgiving Day week.
Raritan and Holmdel clash against each other while Keansburg and Keyport are matched up against each other during the Turkey Day week.
However, the players put aside their school jerseys and wore the same shirts when they tackled the chore of cleaning up the beach as Memorial Day approached.
Jarret Valdez, who plays for Raritan, thought that the event brought the teams together, suggesting that they were all one unit that shared the same goal.
“It was great to meet new teammates of the Bayshore area,” Valdez said.
The plan came together when Paul Coughlin, who works for BCB Bank Bayshore, came up with the idea while at a fundraising organization. The idea of a beach cleanup was mentioned, and Coughlin decided to try to make it happen.
“I was hesitant at first,” Coughlin said. “But once I called the first coach, and heard how enthusiastic he was about it, I was excited about the opportunity.”
Despite the rain on that Saturday of May 20 more than 100 players participated. The players and the coaches saw the benefit of working together to help the community.
“I think it is always a great opportunity to show our players the human side of being a competitor,” said Raritan’s head coach, Anthony Petruzzi. “You don’t just compete on the field, but you compete for the community and often your fiercest competitor on the field will become your greatest ally off of it. We look forward to taking part in this event next year and we cant thank BCB Bayshore Community Bank enough for allowing us to be a part of it.”
Keansburg head coach John Bird also thought the experience taught his players important lessons as well, and was thankful to be apart of the cleanup effort.
“As coaches that are constantly trying to teach our players the value of their place in the community, this was the perfect opportunity to come together off the field and help aid in the beautification of Keansburg beach,” Bird said. “To have the other teams join us was an excellent showing of pride in the bayshore community.”
Coughlin hopes to make this, as well as other upcoming community projects, an annual event.