by Alan Hieber
On Friday afternoon at the Wright State Setzer Pavilion, student-athletes and Special Olympians participated in an indoor field day.
The Special Olympics of Greater Dayton was selected as the 2016-17 philanthropy partner for the WSU Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, which includes community engagement as one of its top priorities.
Two of the WSU student-athlete participants at the field day were golfer Sam Meek and volleyball player Haley Garr. After being a part of several Special Olympics events Meek says there is nothing better than seeing people smiling and having a good time. Garr likes the inclusiveness of the events.
“I think it’s really cool because they’re fellow athletes,” Garr said. “They’re just like us and it’s really fun to share our experiences with them.”
Meek also feels the community service experiences he has been involved with are priceless.
“You can’t put a price on that feeling it gives you knowing that you did something good for somebody else that day and being that extra hand for the community,” Meek said.
Community service opportunities like this are an integral part of the WSU athletic department’s Life Skills program, which emphasizes social responsibility development. This is not only beneficial to the community, but also the student-athlete, according to WSU special assistant to the director of athletics Maigan Larsen.
“It develops mentoring, tutoring, communication and critical thinking skills,” Larsen said. “Taking part in community service is also beneficial for the career development of student-athletes. It allows students to establish lifelong connections, network with potential employers and boost their resumes.”
The festivities were part of the overarching celebration of National Student-Athlete Day. The purpose of the day is to recognize college student-athletes’ successes in academics, community service and athletics.
Some notable achievements for WSU student-athletes include: 45 consecutive semesters of a 3.0 cumulative GPA or better, recent top 25 votes for baseball, men’s soccer and women’s basketball, which made the WNIT this season and over 2,400 hours of community service logged for the 2015-16 school year.
Larsen noted that top-notch academic advising, innovative programs, up to date technology and readiness of quality personal all contribute to the academic accomplishments. The WSU student-athletes speak highly of their professors and classroom experiences she says.
“They love the class sizes, resources and buildings available on campus and the passion that their professors have for teaching,” Larsen said.
Friday’s event was an example of the personal development component in the PSA mission statement the athletic department strives for. Meek and Garr agreed that doing community service is a humbling experience that broadens their horizons.
Student and athletic success are the other two pillars of the mission. Larsen explained the overall benefits of PSA and how it ultimately helps the student-athletes perform at a higher level in competition.
“A well-rounded student-athlete is able to cope better in stressful situations, make better decisions and healthier lifestyle choices, which results in more success personally, academically, and athletically,” Larsen said.
The day concluded with Special Olympian Robbie Berkey throwing out the first pitch at the WSU baseball game.