June 30, 2016

Partly sunny

Pitching in to help a teammate

SHARON TWP. — Football practice doesn’t start until August, but some Highland players are getting an early lesson in teamwork — plus a good workout.

Players came in shifts Friday to the family farm of former teammate Kory Wiita to help stack hay bales.

Wiita, who suffered a serious spinal cord injury during an October game, is in Florida with his family and undergoing treatment.
The 18-year-old graduated from Highland last month.

“We have a lot of hard work coming up for the season, but right now we’re just happy to be helping out the Wiita family,” said Randy McCarthy, 17, of Granger Township.

Jim Berry, a friend of the Wiitas, said he talked to Kory’s father, Dan Wiita earlier this week.

“He said, ‘Hey, I’ll fly back (to work on the hay),’ and I said, ‘No, we’ll get it done,’ ” Berry said Friday.

Berry said Ken and Diane Shiele, also friends of the Wiitas, had the idea to visit the football team during its weightlifting workout and ask it for help with the hay.

The boys at the farm Friday said they were eager to lend a hand.

“I just want to help out,” said John Leblanc, 17, of Brunswick Hills Township.

In his journal at www.caringbridge.org/visit/korywiita, Dan Wiita wrote: “This is actually the first year since Kory was born that he has not been on a hay wagon unloading it or at least trying to unload it. I remember when he was 37 pounds and he could move around 45 pound bales of hay. This year is definitely different.”

Contact Maria Kacik Kula at (330) 721-4049 or mkacik@medina-gazette.com.