LEXINGTON, Ky.—Co-workers often get together this time of year for libations and secret Santa gifts.
But members of the Transylvania University athletics program decided to do something different. About 20 coaches and staff members got off the season’s sidelines and took a van ride up North Limestone to visit Arlington Elementary students.
“I had so much fun reading the Christmas books with the kids,” head women’s lacrosse coach Haley Marvine said. “Children around the holidays are always so excited. It was a really fun day.”
The students reacted enthusiastically not only to the stories but also to the coaches’ participation in their physical education classes, which kept the track and cross-country coaches hopping (er, jumping rope, that is).
Transylvania athletes and athletic staff have taken a more active role in the community all year. For example, the women’s basketball team donated door receipts from the Besuden Classic toward a $1,000 gift to God’s Pantry, and members of the volleyball team have been reading to elementary school children for two months.
“This is something we will do again,” said cheer and dance head coach Tora Carter, who helped coordinate the Arlington visit. “Everyone really enjoyed interacting with the teachers and students. Being able to give back at this time of year is special.”
Arlington’s Family Resource Center Director Linda Prater worked with Carter to make the event possible, as did Karen Anderson, coordinator of Transylvania’s community service and civic engagement office.
The coaches and staff involved all enthusiastically support Carter’s plan to schedule something similar next year:
Brandon Bowman, head coach of the men’s soccer team: “The kids said funny things, laughed and just seemed to have a good time while we were there. I hope they got as much from us as we got from them."
Jakob Hester, assistant cross-country coach and rope-jumping enthusiast: “As a coach, life is about more than just wins, losses or stats. I think volunteering is a wonderful reminder of that. It's an easy way to stay grounded and humble, while also doing good for those around you. It was a great experience and I had a blast. The opportunity to positively impact a child's life is hard to pass up, especially as a coach."
Alaina White, head athletic trainer: "My schedule is pretty busy, but I love giving back to the community. The students loved working with us … and I got to leave knowing that I made their day a little brighter."