Grant helps bring in the team colors

If all goes well in Gary Arneson's class this year, soccer goalies won't be blocking kicks from their own teammates, basketballs won't be landing in the wrong nets and infielders won't be relaying throws to opposing baserunners.

Arneson, a physical education teacher at Dwyer Middle School, recently applied for a grant through to garb his students in team colors. The black and orange vests, which he introduced during first period Friday, will reduce confusion on the court and field — or so he hopes.

"It's a way to differentiate who's on what team," Arneson said as student teams faced off on the basketball court. "Up until now, we've had a sea of white shirts and no one knows who's on what team."

Horace Mann insurance agent Hamid Yazarlou funded the $400 grant through, a nonprofit that connects donors with public schoolteachers. Arneson heard about the program shortly after the school year began, and with help from administration, he put a request for colored vests on the website.

Yazarlou, who works in Horace Mann's Huntington Beach office, found the application online and gladly obliged.

"His project made a lot of sense because if you have to take that extra second to ask, 'Who's on my team and who's not on my team?', it takes away from the strategy of sports," he said.

Horace Mann has donated about $600,000 nationwide to school projects this year, according to spokesman Ray Valek.

Seventh-grader Thunder Orozco, 12, said he looked forward to being able to identify his teammates —especially because he has gotten confused more than once in the past.

"If you didn't know which team you're on and you passed the ball to the wrong person, that's just wrong," he said.

Twitter: @MichaelMillerHB

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