Troopers take on school seniors

MARIETTA – Troopers from the Marietta Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol donned a different sort of uniform Friday morning as they took on a group of Marietta High School seniors for a few games of volleyball, all in the name of charity.

Hundreds of Marietta High School students piled into the high school gym Friday morning, each paying $1 to watch the event and cheer on their team of choice.

“A few weeks ago I got a call from the state patrol asking what we were going to be doing in a couple Fridays. I said, ‘Well, we’re going to be playing some volleyball. You want to join?'” said MHS principal Bill Lee.

The game was a joint effort by the local OSHP and the Marietta High School National Honor Society to raise money for two charitable causes – Operation Feed and the Clean Water Campaign.

Marietta High School senior Kristen Hill, 18, said the high school’s team was made up of a couple members of the girls’ volleyball team, but it was mostly just a collection of seniors, both boys and girls.

“The troopers look pretty good,” she said as they warmed up.

But members of the patrol team said they didn’t get a chance to practice.

“I’ve played some backyard barbecue volleyball, but I don’t know too many of the rules. We’re kind of winging it,” said Trooper Dustin Payne, 29.

The officers took some pointers during warm-up from MHS seniors, who showed them drills for setting and passing the ball.

Freshman Morgan Grammer, 14, said she was rooting for the troopers.

“They need it,” she said, smiling.

But the high school players were a clear favorite among the crowd, which broke out in loud cheers every time their players scored a point.

“We have to pick the high school, obviously,” said Marietta junior Paige Tuten, 17.

Playing to 25 points the first game, the troopers and seniors rarely moved more than a few points from each other. The troopers were the first to reach game point, but students broke into loud cheers as the seniors rebounded with a pair of great volleys to seal the game, 26-24.

“We blew it. We choked,” Payne said after the game.

The game left the highway patrol team with a new respect for the game of volleyball.

“Those girls are like assassins with volleyballs in their hands,” said Payne.

Sgt. Garic Warner had to bandage up when he got home.

“I ended up tearing a hole in my pants, got a little scratched up. It’s definitely a contact sport,” he said.

The high school students ended up winning the final two games more decisively.

“They even spotted us seven points in the last game,” said Warner.

But, added Payne, the troopers’ expectations going in were not to win, just to at least score some points.

“We did all right. Respect was retained,” he said.

The students and troopers ended up raising $237.50 for each charity.

“We’re been a partner with Operation Feed for several years now, and we’re always trying to find new ways to earn money and get food for local food pantries,” said Warner.

Operation Feed is an Ohio charity that aims to raise awareness about hunger issues and to collect food and money for local pantries.

All of the money will directly benefit pantries within Washington County, said Warner.

The Clean Water Campaign has been a year-long fundraising drive for the National Honor Society, said National Honor Society member 17-year-old Amelia Gulick, a senior. The goal is to pay for a well in an African community.

“It costs $13,700 to build a well in a third-world country. That well, not only is it a source of water, it’s a learning opportunity, it’s a step out of poverty,” she said.

So far the group has raised more than $2,000 toward the cause and even if it does not raise enough for a well, the contribution will be significant, she said.