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Palmetto boys hoopsters make good handymen

PALMETTO

Lawn need to be trimmed? Leaves need to be raked?

Dog need to be walked?

Call on Palmetto’s boys basketball team.

“Whatever they want us to do,” said coach Wilmore Fowler, “we’ll do.”

Church parking lot need to be cleared? Car need to be washed?

Trash need to be hauled to the curb?

Call on the hoops team that takes a 6-0 record into tonight’s game against Lakewood Ranch.

Checkbook and debit cards not required.

“Free of charge,” Fowler said.

The Tigers spend every other Saturday doing good deeds, and it’s not because they’re looking to buy new uniforms or spend Christmas break in Maui.

They’re doing it because Fowler, a Palmetto legend now in his second year as the team’s head coach, wants to send a message to the community.

“I want to show there’s a good side to kids,” he said.

Fowler has read enough about the bad ones, so he wants to tell everyone about the good ones.

It means his players have to sacrifice parts of two Saturdays per month, though the sell wasn’t as hard as Fowler expected.

“Once everybody came in and started pitching in, the kids started buying into it,” Fowler said. “What I was telling them was, ‘You need to start doing something for the community. They’re coming to see you play — let’s give back to them.’

“A lot of them never did anything like raking yards, so it’s time for them to learn some life skills anyway.”

The real winner here is the community, but Fowler has seen his team benefit, too — on the court and off.

The Tigers have learned to work better as a group, to rely on the guy next to them. Consequently, Palmetto has had a different high scorer in each of its six games.

“They believe in themselves,” Fowler said.

And they’re coming together as a group, too — Fowler saw six of his players hanging out together during a recent trip to the mall, rekindling an intimacy between teammates that has been pared down because of the onslaught of video games and other indoor devices.

“I didn’t tell them to do that,” he said.

Fowler and his boys are looking for work, and anyone who has some can contact the team at fowlerw@manateeschools.net.

Whatever you need them to do, they’ll do. Won’t cost you a cent.

And when the trash is cleared and the yard is cleaned, Filmore hopes the players and customers get something out of it.

“I want to bring the community together,” he said. “You do have some good kids — not all the kids are bad.

“We are trying to do something positive.”

John Lembo, prep sports writer, can be reached at 745-7080, ext. 2097.

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