Twardowski’s Eagle Scout project gives Putnam County soccer a big boost
GRANVILLE — Joey Twardowski, 15, of Mark, has been playing soccer since he was in kindergarten. He’s also been Scouting since a young age, and he found a way to combine both with the project that helped earn him the title of Eagle Scout.
Only 4 percent of those who enter Scouting achieve the highest of the organization’s seven ranks. As well having to earn 21 merit badges, one of the requirements is to plan and complete a community service project.
“That project was about trying to help start a soccer program here in the Putnam County School District 535,” Twardowski said.
“I’ve been playing soccer around the area since I was in kindergarten, and so have many other PC students. I thought it’d be a great way to help bring it to our school, so we could represent it in another popular IHSA (Illinois High School Association) sport,” he said.
Chris Newsome, the assistant principal and athletic director at Putnam County High School, said the school currently doesn’t participate in the IHSA soccer series, so any team at the high school level would be considered club status.
However, Newsome said the addition of soccer could be an option in the future as the district continually looks at how to best serve its students.
“Joe’s project has provided students and the community another option where they can try and stay physically fit and remain active throughout spring, summer and fall,” Newsome said.
“I’ve spoken to our P.E. department about using the soccer goals as an option as they plan out their instructional units. Joe did an incredible job on his project, and PC is extremely grateful for the soccer goals he donated to the school,” he said.
While requiring a lot of work, Twardowski said his project to raise the necessary money to purchase regulation soccer goals, nets, paint and field marking materials was also enjoyable.
“I invited many of the PC soccer players to come out and help with the assembly of the goals and the marking of the field. Many people showed up to the goal assembly, and it was a blast. That was the easy part,” he said.
The next stage of the project was marking out a regulation high school field using a large measuring tape, string, and a rolling field marker. There were fewer volunteers to help the day that work was completed, and Twardowski said the lack of extra hands made the work significantly more difficult.
Completing the project took 164 hours and the help of numerous volunteers. He funded about two-thirds of it with the $3,300 raised by selling meat sticks and candy bars. The remaining funds for two soccer nets, a paint machine, cones and flags came through private donations.
Twardowski said he has met many great people through Scouting and that they’ve helped him become more outgoing by pushing his boundaries, little by little, until he now feels like he could do almost anything.
“Scouting helps guide youth into becoming leaders. It helps teach you skills you’d never learn in school, such as tying a clove hitch, or pitching a tent,” he said.
“They help show you don’t need the great indoors to have a good time. You can have an amazing time by the lake or making a fort on a camp-out,” he said.
Twardowski also said Scouting opens many doors and offers opportunities for travel and excitement.
“There are amazing trips sponsored by Scouting programs that you’d never imagine even existed. You can go camping in front of a castle in Scotland, on canoe trips in Canadian lakes, two-week long backpacking trips in New Mexico, or learn new skills through merit badges at a college and go on a scavenger hunt around the campus,” he said.
Boy Scouts age out of the organization at the age of 18, and Twardowski will remain a member of Granville’s Troop 1093 until then. He’s not yet sure of what or where he’d like to study after he graduates from high school, but if it involves a local college, he said he’d be an assistant scoutmaster with his troop.
“If I go further away, I’d like to be a part of the local troop. I’d also like to stay active in the Order of the Arrow, which is Scouting’s National Honor Society, and hopefully receive the highest rank of Vigil. Scouting is a great program, and I’d like to see more youth be a part of it,” he said.