COSTA MESA — Spring football just got underway at Estancia High. Coach Mike Bargas has the team working out Monday through Friday, running and lifting at the start and end of the week and doing fieldwork in the middle of the week.
At the end of this week, Bargas added an extra day to the team's spring schedule.
Four dozen players showed up Saturday morning right next door to Jim Scott Stadium, where the Eagles train and play. They arrived at Fairview Park just before 7:30 a.m. to put in 3 1/2 hours of hard work.
Instead of their usual football equipment, players used rakes, shovels, picks, scrapers, wheelbarrows and push brooms. Their job was to clean up the park.
"There's nothing wrong with getting a little down and dirty," Bargas said with a smile. "I think it's important for us to give back to the community. It's our neighborhood.
"We get a lot of people that help out our football program, so it's time to give back. The [players will] get community service hours and a slice of pizza. We want to project the school as a positive place to be, and it's just not about school and football, there's also community service."
Since Bargas arrived at Estancia six years ago, he made community service a top priority. He was right there with his players on Saturday, pulling weeds and clearing pathways in the park in time for next Sunday's 6th annual Costa Mesa Community Run.
Bargas teamed up with Costa Mesa Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger for the cleanup. Bargas said Mensinger supplied a couple of city employees, while Mensinger's wife, Robin, brought pizza for the volunteers, which also included Estancia cheerleaders, Bargas' assistants and members of the football booster club.
"We actually mitigated … a trail that ends right there at Mount Placentia, and it was starting to slide into the sidewalk. They dug that out, swept it, and then we cleared all the pathways in Fairview Park and lower Fairview Park," said Mensinger, who is also Estancia's booster president. "Some of these kids, they just don't realize when you have an area that big, volunteers are the only way you can make this thing work. You just can't hire enough people to do what they did today. One of our city guys said they probably did as much work today as it would take three or four guys to do in three or four days."
While players like Dalton O'Daly and Mark Velasquez cleaned up, parkgoers thanked them and the rest of their teammates for the work.
The hardest part for most of the teenagers was rising out of bed on Saturday.
"I'm not used to getting up early on weekends," said Cole Mensinger, a senior, "but I do it to just help the community."