Good sports: Greyhounds give back

 

NCAA Division II athletics offers sport at its best, balancing high-quality competition with a focus on developing the whole person, and the University of Indianapolis Greyhounds shine both on and off the field. Here’s a glimpse at how just a few teams found ways to give back in 2010–11.

Huddle up to serve
At the annual Special Olympics basketball tournament held on UIndy’s campus this spring, more than 60 Greyhounds helped out, including members of the football, basketball, soccer teams, and women’s track and field. The keynote speaker was head football coach Bob Bartololmeo, who made sure that his team was there to cheer on the kids.

“We’re just trying to teach our guys that there is more out there than football,” says Coach Bart.

Later that afternoon, several football players participated in the Riley Dance Marathon to raise money for Riley Hospital for Children. Junior Rob Doyle loved interacting with the kids during the Dance Marathon.

“The fact that Coach Bart requires our involvement around school and in the community is extremely important,” he says. “The student-athletes on our football team are blessed with many gifts and talents, and it’s our duty to share those gifts with others.”

Wrestling boxes

Sometimes it just takes a strong person to give back, as in the case of the wrestling team last year. When Gleaners Food Bank needed help getting more than 50 cases of food (about 1,700 pounds) to Robert’s United Methodist Church downtown, Greyhound grapplers were there with the assist. Thanks to the team’s help, the church’s “Soup’s On” Sunday meal was able to move forward without a hitch.

“It’s a good way for us to help and an easy way for us to do a substantial amount of work for some grateful folks,” says assistant coach Bob Brubeck.

Hardball with a heart
After 17 years on the UIndy campus, coach Gary Vaught knows a little about how to make a difference in the community. Each year, he gets his team involved—whether it’s painting area houses, picking up trash, setting up equipment for a national cheerleading competition downtown, or hanging Christmas lights outside the southside Indiana Member’s Credit Union offices. He’s also established the “Hit One for Riley” program. If a UIndy slugger hits the bull’s-eye on the backfield fence, Coach Vaught donates $500 to Riley.

“I want our guys to understand that the good Lord has given them a chance to play sports, and there are so many kids out there who can’t play but wish they could,” he says. “We want our players to understand that there is always time in a day to give back.”

Bounce in their step
Senior Ceciley Starkey can’t remember a time during her four years on campus when the tennis team wasn’t involved
in a community service project. They’ve held free tennis clinics, helped serve dinner at a local shelter, and, along with several players from the men’s team, donated more than 30 hours of their time to the Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center on the city’s near-southwest side. This year, the team took part in the duckpin bowling tournament, sponsored by the Student-Athlete Advisory Council, that helps to raise money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation. They also donated their time to Miracle Place community center on the near-eastside to help kids with after-school activities and homework. Before leaving for semester break in December, they sponsored a family,  providing plenty of Christmas gifts for everyone.

“It’s so much fun to be involved with volunteering and to be out in the community,” Ceciley says. “It’s a good way to bond with teammates, too.”

Tracking hunger
This winter, the track and field team could be found at Second Helpings, a nonprofit food servicing agency. Second Helpings provides free hot meals to senior citizens and children in need. The athletes helped prepare meals and then clean the facility afterward.

“Second Helpings opened our eyes to hunger in Indianapolis and to all the food waste Indy produces,” says track team member Kara Gill. “We thought it was an incredible place where we could join in and help our community to prepare food for the elderly and small children.”

A kick out of service
Head soccer coach John Higgins, his staff, and team braved frigid waters, “Freezin’ for a Reason” in February as the entire squad participated in Special Olympics Indiana’s Polar Plunge at Eagle Creek Park.

“It was a great team bonding experience, and we were able to raise money for a great cause,” says Higgins. “It’s a win-win for us when we can have fun as a team and help a great organization like Special Olympics Indiana.”

The team also helped to work the “Shoot fore Sammi” golf outing for the third year in a row, raising money toward finding a cure for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, and volunteered at Grassy Creek Elementary School to read to the children.

Hoops help
Members of the men’s basketball team have made their presence known in the community. In addition to helping with the Special Olympics tournament, held on UIndy’s campus, the team held a youth clinic for the Lawrence Township Boys Basketball League at Fall Creek Valley Middle School. The team held two sessions, one for third and fourth graders and one for fifth and sixth graders. The team also worked with the fathers who volunteer as coaches in the league.

“The main thing is just having our guys out there working with kids who look up to them,” says Coach Stan Gouard. “It’s a great experience, and I want our team to appreciate what they have and give some of it back.”

The team also takes time to read to kids at a nearby elementary school and to participate in a mentoring program with 100 Black Men of Indianapolis.

“Volunteering is our chance to give back, and if we don’t do that, we’re in the wrong place,” says Coach Gouard. “Everyone looks up to someone, and our players know that kids are watching them.”

Team teaching
With the 2011 Women’s Final Four in town, approximately 20 Greyhound student-athletes volunteered their time to instruct Indianapolis youth participants at the 2011 Powerade NCAA Youth Clinic. Members of the UIndy women’s basketball, men’s basketball, baseball, swimming and diving, and men’s golf teams all spent their Saturday serving as clinic instructors.

“I had a blast and had the privilege of teaching the kids some of the many skills I have learned in my basketball career so far,” men’s basketball player Joe Daniels said of his experience.