While on duty, they deal with violent offenders in the jail, they arrest criminals, they investigate accidents, and they are always there when the public makes a call for help. However, they also do more than that; they invest in the community they serve.
On Sunday, March 19, St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office (SMCSO) deputies and correctional officers volunteered to play basketball against students at Mother Catherine Academy (MCA) for the Local Heroes Project, a project started by MCA administrators to teach students the virtue of charity.
The Mother Catherine gymnasium quickly filled up with spectators waiting to see the MCA girls basketball team play the SMCSO team led by their coach Lt. Robert Russell. The sheriff’s office quickly learned this was going to be a close match. As the students and sheriff’s office team members dribbled from one end of the court to the other, the excited crowd cheered on their favorite team, gasped when a foul was called and cheered when their team scored.
“There was so much positive energy in the room that day you couldn’t help but get excited during the game,” said Correctional Officer Sgt. Bonnie Payne. “It was a rewarding experience for me especially because my grandchildren attend the school. It was a way for me to serve my community while spending time with my family.”
Initially, the SMCSO team led the scoreboard until an interesting twist was announced: for every $1 donated, the Mother Catherine team would get five points on the scoreboard, and the sheriff’s office would receive one point.
During the halftime show, the MCA cheerleaders strategically pulled the law enforcement officers to the middle of the court where they had them participate in a formation with signs that said, “Support our Local Heroes” held up behind them.
All the funds raised from the event were donated to the family of “Sgt. Nolan Scully,” who recently lost his battle with cancer.
“When I found out the funds raised for the event would be given to the Nolan Scully family,” Sgt. Sarah Lacey said, “I immediately volunteered to play. I live here in St. Mary’s County, this community is a family. We help each other anyway we can.”
Following the first basketball game, the MCA boys basketball team played the Maryland State Police (MSP) team, and then the MSP team and the sheriff’s office played each other in a seven-minute game.
The event ended on a warm note when the MCA students surprised law enforcement officers and the Scully family with a thin blue line flag that was folded while “There are Angels Among Us” by Alan Jackson played in the background. After the students had folded the flag, they presented it to the Scully family. A video of the sheriff’s office deputies and the MSP troopers showed scenes of community outreach.
It was an excellent day for the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office, the Maryland State Police, and the Mother Catherine Academy. They played against each other for a win, but at the end of the day, everyone was on the same team playing in unity in support of the Nolan Scully family. That day everyone – including the spectators – was a hero.
Afterward, the students presented the law enforcement agencies with a basketball signed by them and tobacco stick signs with each deputy’s and state trooper’s name.
The SMCSO thanks MCA for coordinating and inviting correctional officers and deputies to play in this event. They also thank the fans for their support and the MSP for displaying great sportsmanship.
Additional Photos: https://www.facebook.com/firstsheriff/