Student athletes give up morning to serve youth

Ariy-El Boynton

Ariy-El Boynton

Normally the sight of 300 plus kids at Frost Arena and the Intramural Building on a lazy weekend would be an odd sight for parents, kids, student athletes and coaches. This was no ordinary day.

The SDSU Athletic Department along with a host of SDSU athletes from the track, soccer, basketball, football and volleyball teams took their morning off and helped the area youth with basketball skills to set up the Fast Break Camp.

According to Micah Grenz, marketing and promotions director, over 450 youths (5-12) were registered, but inclement weather made it difficult for some families to attend.

Grenz noted the camp attendance is pretty relative. “We say only 300 but a lot of schools would be very excited to have 300 kids, so it says something about our program.”

At Frost Arena, there were 16 different sites to which groups of kids (12-16) could travel, and few kids were without a smile or a focused face.

The area youth worked on passing, dribbling, defense, shooting and ball handling situations. The student athletes played double roles as coaches and babysitters, but the main point of the morning was to have fun.

Senior men’s basketball center Michael Loney, who led the kids in Simon Says for 20 minutes, was excited about the experience. “It’s just fun, and the kids have a good time. When I was a kid, I appreciated when high school guys talked to me, and so I wanted to do the same thing.” Loney advised the kids to do whatever they do, with passion, and follow their dreams.

The exchanges that occurred were quite comical. A lineman told a group of eight-year-olds to take a drink of water so “they won’t get dehydrated.” A defensive back raced a youth while the younger one was dribbling. A freshman point guard instructed his group to act as though they were charging toward him and they hit the Frost Arena track on their backsides.

One energetic young man told an athlete, “One day when I grow up, I’m going to be a Jackrabbit.”

While the kids were full of joy about all the players who helped out, they may have been most excited about Jack the Jackrabbit, who gave high-fives to all the youths.

The parents really appreciated the time that the student athletes volunteered. “It was really amazing to see these busy young people give their morning to spend with my children; if I could, I would thank them all,” said Jenny Harada of Sioux Falls.

Along with the free clinic, the kids also received free game tickets and were able to run a circle around the basketball court at halftime of the SDSU men’s basketball game. They were also taught how to yell “Go Jacks” after hearing “Go Big, Go Blue.”