No strangers to turf — natural or synthetic — the Bearcat football team took on a landscaping project of sorts in August during the United Way's Days of Caring. Team members set aside practice for half a day and headed over to Pioneer Cemetery, where they cleared away moss, removed matted carpets of ivy and blackberry vines, and trimmed trees and shrubs to help preserve the historic grounds.
The match-up between the Bearcats and Pioneer Cemetery is especially appropriate: The cemetery originated as the family burial ground of the Rev. David Leslie, who joined Jason Lee in founding the Oregon Institute, the University's forerunner. Elisabeth Walton Potter, member of the Friends of Pioneer Cemetery, wrote to commend the team: "With such a force working together, the Bearcats made a real difference in the appearance of things at the heart of the cemetery. Thank you again for making outstanding teamwork available to the community's benefit."
According to Coach Mark Speckman, this is the team's third year to tackle the groundskeeping project at the cemetery; this year 26 players took part. "It's just as important for teambuilding as it is for community service," Speckman explains. "There's a huge need for initiatives like this in Salem, and if there's some small way we can help, we're happy to get involved."