I Love Dayton: Chain gang volunteers spend decades supporting Brookville community

I Love Dayton

BROOKVILLE, Ohio (WDTN) – High school football is a fall tradition that has become a big part of American culture, but not just for the players who take the field. Some of the dedicated volunteers are another reason why we love Dayton.

It’s not easy blending into the background wearing bright orange vests, but on fall Friday nights in Brookville, without any fanfare, a group of friends gather in service to a game they love and a community they support.

Dave Askins has been a Brookville chain gang volunteer for four decades.

“My dad did it when I was in school and I’ve just been doing it ever since. I just like the atmosphere and it kind of, it brings back memories,” he said.

Randy Thompson’s been moving the sticks for 39 seasons.

“With Brookville being a close-knit community it’s another way of helping out the school. I’ve got grandkids at the school,” he said.

Barry Zickefoose has 28 years of service.

“I played football here, too, just like the other guys on the chain gang here. We all played on the same teams and we just had fun,” he said.

And the rookie of 26 years is Randy Wellbaum.

“It’s just about giving back to the community. I mean, it’s a close-knit community, just like what happened this past Spring with the tornado and the way everybody came together,” he said.

Like the field markers themselves, high school players move along. But Friday night traditions, they remain for generations.

“Everybody always asks us, how do you get a job to be on the chain gang? For years we have all said the same thing. You wait for one of us to die. I will do it as long as I can do it or I’m not a major embarrassment to myself or my family,” Thompson says.

For Brookville’s fantastic four it’s a bond of Blue Pride stronger than the chain they pull around. A spirit of volunteerism that, quite frankly, is too big to measure, even for these guys.

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