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Davis team making points off court by helping others

Boys basketball team reads to kids, helps homeless

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On the court, the highly ranked Davis High boys basketball team is enjoying a great season. The Darts won the Region 1 title and are considered a state championship contender at the upcoming 5A tournament.

Off the court, their season might even be considered more successful.

As well as they've played together in the gym, some of the most memorable parts of this season will come from what the Davis players did together outside of the arena.

The Darts have learned that charity isn't limited to the stripe where they shoot free throws. The picked up that valuable life lesson while doing three team service projects throughout the season. Along with practicing hard, studying Xs and Os, and winning a bunch of games, the Darts also helped teach elementary children the importance of reading, brightened the Christmas season for many less-fortunate families and helped out the homeless.

Team moms Sally Hurst and Sherrie Martineau — mothers of team captains Brady Hurst and Nick Martineau — came up with the service project idea, and the players and coaches thought it was a good idea even if a few of the teenagers had never really done much charity work before.

"It has turned out as good as I thought it would or even better," Brady said. "We ended up having a ton of fun."

On top of that, while helping others out they also helped themselves.

"Just doing this together ... I think we got closer as a team as well," he added.

According to Sandy Hurst, the idea was to get the Davis players to jump out of their comfort zone and to give back to the community.

"These boys have a lot ... and they get a lot of attention," she said. "(We) thought it would be good for them to step out of themselves for a little while and see what it's really like."

And did they ever.

In December, the Darts acquired enough money and donations to provide Christmas to more than a dozen Sub-for-Santa families in the Kaysville area.

"We did some shopping," Brady said. "It was a lot of fun."

The Darts' next assignment was to read to students at Burton Elementary. The boys brought their favorite books — everything from sports to Shel Silverstein poetry to stories about trolls and monsters to Harry Potter — and read excerpts to very receptive audiences. They tried to convey to the young students the fact that it's all fun and games to play sports, but that school has to be their first priority.

Sherrie Martineau made bookmarks for each of the elementary students. Each bookmark had the phrase "SCORE with reading" and a Davis basketball logo on it — and eventually the autographs of the tall athletes who read to them.

"Most of them (the players) have not really been involved in service, so even going into a school they were a little bit nervous and not quite sure," Sandy Hurst said. "Once they got going they just loved it. Kids asked for autographs on bookmarks, and they thought that was so neat."

Last Saturday, Davis had an eye-opening experience at St. Vincent de Paul's homeless shelter in Salt Lake City. The group — including players, coaches, managers, friends and family members — helped clean up at the weekly brunch served at the facility. Some volunteer groups help out in the kitchen, but the Darts got to interact with the people in the cafeteria while picking up trays, sweeping and tidying up.

"Honestly in Davis County we don't see a lot of that like you see in Salt Lake. It creates an awareness with these kids so they can see what else is going in the world," Sandy Hurst said. "Sometimes it helps kids who are not making really good life choices to see what consequences their choices can be. It's just good for these boys to see a different side of life. They've seen a pretty sheltered life."

Brady said the guys had a good time talking and learning about the homeless people who were there. A few people they met commented about how the Darts were "so tall" and some said, "I want to come watch you guys play."

So don't be surprised if the Darts' cheering section at future games includes their friends from St. Vincent de Paul's and Burton Elementary.

"It's been really neat to see the boys do this," Sandy Hurst said. "It's been good for the boys. We've been glad we did it."

So have the boys, some of whom also handed out 20 pairs of jeans to homeless people during the holidays.

"It's not always about basketball. It's about life lessons," Brady said. "It's about helping other people."

E-mail: jody@desnews.com