‘Big E’ sailors help at KFHSPublished 10:24pm Thursday, March 28, 2013
The legendary aircraft carrier they’re assigned to may have been retired from service, but there was no lack of activity when 18 sailors from the USS Enterprise visited King’s Fork High School Thursday.
From the world’s first nuclear-powered carrier’s automated data processing division, the IT specialists visited the school to spruce up track and field facilities.
Tasks including marking lines, killing weeds and stencil-painting giant paw prints to symbolize the school’s Bulldog mascot.
One of the sailors, Lt. Adrian Young, a Suffolk resident and assistant track coach at King’s Fork High, organized for the group to visit weekly until season’s end at the beginning of June.
“We build networks and repair computers on the ship,” Young said. “I come out (to King’s Fork) five days a week” to assist Kisha Ricks, the coach.
With the school district facing budget difficulties, he explained, “sometimes field maintenance gets left out.”
For instance, Young said, it’s up to him and Ricks to mark the lanes for each event. “But we are coaching from Monday to Friday,” so finding the time can be challenging.
Young said he asked his “Big E” colleagues if they wanted to help out at King’s Fork as a community relations project.
“We got approval from the command … then the athletic director and principal gave us permission to come out and assist them,” he said.
As well as marking lanes, cleaning and fixing equipment, painting paws prints, mowing and whacking weeds — and cooking lunch on the grill — the volunteers also sorted out the locker room and inventoried uniforms.
“It’s a great team-building exercise,” Young said. “And we’re doing something for the local community.”
The regular work sessions will help entice track and field teams from other schools to come to King’s Fork.
“No one wants to come to your track if your facilities are unsafe or they don’t give your athletes the opportunity to do their best,” Young said. “When we invite them out; they can say, ‘No, we’re not going there.’ (But) you want them to come and compete on your track.”
Volunteering in the community is an important part of serving in the military, said Colton Thomas, the makeover crew’s only other Suffolk resident.
“Anything we can do for the community,” he said.
Many of the volunteers, like Sabrina Baker of Virginia Beach, who painted shot put lines and paw prints, were on the track team themselves during high school.
“It’s cool — definitely — to get out here and help with this,” she said.
Correy Bushman, from Rochester, Minn., was on his high school’s 4×100-meter relay team and also competed in pole vault, long jump and triple jump.
“It feels nice to be back in track and field,” he said.
A Navy spokesman explained that the Enterprise crew is still assigned to the vessel, despite it having been taken out of service.
“The ship is deactivated, not decommissioned — there is still a crew,” he said.
Among the highlights of its 50-year career, the Enterprise helped blockade communist Cuba and, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, was one of the first units to strike back after the terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C., on Sept. 11, 2001.