Friday the 13th turned out to be an unlucky day for the Hagerstown Police Department’s kickball team.
The city’s finest were dispatched in another way during a Friday afternoon match against the half-pints from Winter Street Elementary School.
Fourth-grader Kaytie Banzhoff acknowledged that the officers took it easy on the students, but said: “We handled them.”
Second-grade teacher Jen Hardy, who also serves as coordinator of the school’s Positive Behavior Intervention Support program, said five students were chosen from each of the school’s 15 classes to play in the game.
The students were picked by their teachers, based in part, on their academic performance and positive attitude throughout the year.
“They’ve been the students to best exemplify the school rules, being respectful, responsible, safe and prepared,” Hardy said. “The kids look forward to this every year.”
Hardy said the children who weren’t picked to play were encouraged to cheer on their classmates.
“We invite everyone to watch,” she said. “Even the students who weren’t picked feel they’re involved.”
Many of the children on the sidelines chanted, “Kick the ball,” and “Here we go gray team, here we go.”
In some cases, Principal Matt Semler picked up students as they ran the bases to shield them from being thrown out, while the officers flubbed easy grounders and made wild throws that purposefully missed their peewee opponents.
Officer Thomas Cox said the police who participated in Friday’s game volunteered after they were invited by school officials.
“The kids like it,” Cox said. “It’s a good time. It shows them we’re not here just to arrest people. We’re good guys. We’re here to help out.”
Officer Ron Isaacs engaged in a friendly war of words with the students as he played catcher for the police.
“They get to see a different side of us other than to ride around in a police car,” Isaacs said. “It’s always fun. I love playing with the kids.”
Fourth-graders Shania Doughty and Lindsay Pepple said they weren’t worried that the game might get canceled because of Friday’s rainy weather.
“We waited on this all year,” Lindsay said. “A little bit of rain isn’t going to hurt us.”