Student-Athletes Volunteer at Day of Caring

April 19, 2011

Day of Caring Photo Gallery 1 | Day of Caring Photo Gallery 2

IOWA CITY, Iowa — During the school year, thousands of Eastern Iowa residents sacrifice their time and money to support University of Iowa athletics student-athletes. Many of those student-athletes tried to return the favor last weekend.

Members of 15 different Hawkeye athletic teams spent Sunday morning volunteering in the Eastern Iowa community as a part of the athletic department’s annual “Day of Caring.” Volunteer efforts included projects like landscaping, interior and exterior painting, patient visits and cleanup at 16 different locations around the Iowa City area.

The Iowa women’s soccer team focused its volunteer time at the Mayor’s Youth Empowerment Program site on the southeast side of Iowa City. Team members helped paint doors and picnic tables, along with mulching and landscaping around the site.

Sarah Langlas, a junior midfielder on the UI soccer team, said volunteering with an organization like the Youth Empowerment Program helps them focus more on local kids instead of odd jobs that need to be done.

“Everything they do here, they need volunteers so they can pour money into helping the kids,” Langlas said.

Langlas and her fellow Hawkeye soccer teammates enjoy paying back time in the Iowa City community.

“It’s awesome because a lot of the athletes at Iowa talk about how much the community supports their team,” Langlas said. “It’s great that we get to turn around and help them, too.”

Ron Rainey, Iowa’s head women’s soccer coach, makes volunteering a focus for his student-athletes.

“I think it’s a real good part of our program and for Iowa athletics to help out in the community,” Rainey said. “They give us so much support during the year.”

The women’s basketball team rolled up its collective sleeves Sunday morning at the Pathways Adult Day Health Center in Iowa City. The job description for the Hawkeye women’s hoopsters included sweeping out parking lots, spreading mulch, constructing a fountain, filling planters and painting.

Junior point guard Kamille Wahlin echoed Langlas’ comments about thanking the Hawkeye faithful by volunteering.

“It gives us an opportunity to give back to the community,” Wahlin said. “We get a lot of support from the fans and we appreciate it. I really like how the university comes up with this day for us to give back to places in the community.”

The Iowa football team didn’t need a day off after the annual Coca-Cola Spring Practice, jumping into the volunteer efforts just 24 hours after finishing spring workouts. Football student-athletes spent Sunday morning helping the Iowa City Storm Water Program by cleaning trash and removing debris from creek and river banks. Student-athletes pulled large tree branches and other yard waste to prevent it from flowing downstream.

Marcus Coker knows a thing or two about volunteering, as he spends numerous hours helping out in the community.

“I’ve done a lot of stuff like this,” Coker said. “It feels really good because they (the fans) give you so much. You’ve got to give back.”

Iowa football Director of Player Development Chigozie Ejiasi is a big fan of the annual “Day of Caring.”

“Student Life did a great job of getting the athletes together,” Ejiasi said. “The idea is to clean some stuff up and help these guys out in the process.”

Student-athletes and coaches at Iowa realize the support from Hawkeye fans is really unique. Whether its 70,585 screaming fans at Kinnick Stadium on a Saturday afternoon or a packed hillside at the UI Soccer Complex on a Friday night, Iowa fans show their love for the Hawkeyes.

Sunday’s “Day of Caring” is just one way for the UI Athletic Department to return the favor.