YPSILANTI, Mich. (EMUEagles.com) — Throughout the 2015-16 academic year, student-athletes from each of Eastern Michigan University’s 21 varsity programs took time out of their academic and athletic schedules to help out around the Ypsilanti community. With an emphasis on giving back to our local and campus communities, the student-athletes collectively participated in 5,077 volunteer hours.
“Engaging with our community is an ongoing focus for our Department of Athletics, coaches and student-athletes,” said EMU Vice President and Director of Athletics Heather Lyke. “Our student-athletes have risen to the occasion by participating in many events this year. There is no greater lesson our student-athletes learn than the importance of giving back to others. And there is no greater moment than watching the joy on a child’s face when they are impacted by our student-athletes.”
During the 2015-16 academic year, all 21 EMU teams continued the tradition of working closely with the campus and local community. In total, EMU Athletics completed more than 5,000 volunteer hours the second straight year, with a grand total of 5,077 hours logged.
EMU Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) president Julia Lombardi organized a social media blast day for Friday, Jan. 8, 2016. Through her leadership, all those connected to the Mid-American Conference member institutions were encouraged to post tweets using the hashtag “#MoreThanASport.” These posts were intended to be personal, introspective messages discussing the life-long impacts of the college athletics experience. The response to her call was remarkable, as hundreds of student-athletes from the MAC and across the country offered insightful comments about how their lives have been changed for the better by college athletics.
As news about the severity of the water crisis in Flint, Michigan spread, EMU Athletics partnered with other campus and community agencies and Corrigan Moving Systems to deliver several hundred cases of water to the Brennan Senior Center in Flint on January 29, 2016. Athletics department student-athletes, coaches and staff generously donated water and helped collect donations from other community entities. Members of our football team traveled to Flint on Jan. 29 to help unload the cases of water.
The EMU SAAC teamed up with Kleats 4 Kids to collect gently used or new athletic shoes to donate to the local community. Kleats 4 Kids strives to help underprivileged kids acquire the necessary footwear needed to play sports. From December through February, EMU Athletics collected footwear donations at home athletics events and the members of SAAC worked together to clean-up the footwear, before making the donation of over 100 pairs of shoes to the Detroit Police Athletic League (PAL). The Detroit PAL is an organization dedicated to building character in young people through athletic, academic and leadership development programs, impacting roughly 12,000 youth annually.
In an effort to instill more “EMU Pride” around the campus community, EMU SAAC and the EMU Office for Diversity and Community Involvement (DCI) teamed up for a sweatshirt exchange on-campus. Students from both organizations were at different locations on-campus with brand new athletics sweatshirts, with the Block E on the front. When they encountered an EMU student wearing a sweatshirt with the name or logo of another collegiate institution, they offered to trade that sweatshirt on the spot for the new EMU gear. All of the sweatshirts of other schools collected were donated to the Clothes Closet at Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Ypsilanti. In total, 250 sweatshirts were exchanged.
EMU student-athletes participated in the 2nd and 7 Foundation’s Tackle Illiteracy program for the third straight year. A total of 210 student-athletes, representing 20 of our 21 varsity teams, visited 27 second-grade classrooms throughout Ypsilanti, reading to the children, handing out books and reminding students about the importance of reading. This year’s student-athlete participation total was a 20% increase over last year’s participants.