ASHEVILLE – The hair sticking out of the ballcaps of the players on the UNC Asheville baseball team was pretty noticeable.
Bunch of long-haired hippie types, typical for one of those liberal arts colleges?
Nope, the soon to be no longer flowing locks of Bulldogs baseball players were grown with a purpose, to help in the fight against childhood cancer.
The post-game head shaving following Tuesday night’s meeting with Wake Forest at McCormick Field was one of the many acts of public service the Asheville athletic department conducts each year, providing money and other forms of aid to children, charities and the community in general.
And at the same time providing the student-athletes a blueprint for what hopefully is a lifetime of giving and helping others.
“We recruit good kids, so hopefully giving back is not something we have to teach them, but something they are already aware of and doing when they get here,” said baseball coach Tom Smith.
“Last year (from a similar head-shaving fundraiser) we got checks from 15 states. We put $10,000 here (to Mission Health) and $10,000 nationally (to children’s cancer research), and it’s important that our kids see that the work we do off the field is benefiting others who need help.”
“It’s not so much that we are expected to do this, but it’s something we want to do,” said senior baseball player Robert McIntosh.
“We have a chance to help kids with cancer. Who wouldn’t want to be part of that?”
The baseball fundraiser caps an athletic season in which the Bulldogs spent a lot of time off-campus in and around Asheville, lending a hand, getting involved in the community and networking for both the university and perhaps future employment opportunities.
Coach Brenda Mock Kirkpatrick’s women’s basketball team was all over the place.
The entire team was involved in Rocky’s Readers at New City Christian School and Barnardsville Elementary, meeting in assemblies with the student bodies to explain the importance of reading and staying in school.
The team returned to the schools for pizza parties for classes that won contests, sharing lunch and playing games with kindergarten classes.
The Bulldogs were also involved in class participation with three classes at Isaac Dickson Elementary School, visiting the school on three occasions to read stories, work on math, share snacks and put on a performance for children.
The team visited MANNA FoodBank to help with warehouse packing for items that would be distributed through WNC.
Coach Frederico Santos’ volleyball team was also active, hosting a Pink-Out Game for the Ladies Night Out program that provides free mammograms to uninsured women.
The squad worked the National Girls and Women in Sports Day, giving clinics to young girls coming to campus as part of the program, and visited Asheville City Preschool and read to the kids there.
“The entire theme of giving back and the belief that ‘for whom much is given, much is expected,’ is something we talk a lot about at UNC Asheville,” said Kirkpatrick, a Waynesville native. “Volunteering is something we want to impart to our student athletes, not only to give back but being involved in the community where you live.
“Hopefully when they leave us, they understand that should be part of their life,” she said.
To read more please visit: http://www.citizen-times.com/story/news/local/2014/05/14/unc-asheville-athletes-give-back-community/9103727/