Noles in the Community – Volume 2
By: Caneka Hammonds
The Florida State women’s basketball team has been extremely active in the Big Bend community this fall. This year the teams’ goal is to build character on and off the court and become influential members in the community.
In September, the players split up into different groups in an effort to raise awareness about the importance of education, discipline and being physically active. The team made visits to four community centers/schools in Leon County including Dade Street Community Center and Pace Secondary School.
“Our players love getting out in the community,” said head coach Sue Semrau. “We want to represent the Big Bend area the best way we can. Whether it’s visiting schools, going to community centers or any of the other places we visit, we know that one of our greatest priorities is giving back and mentoring others. It’s something we take pride in and we enjoy every opportunity we get to do it.”
The team also paid a visit to the Lawrence-Gregory Community Center at Dade Street, a center that runs an afterschool program which offers a variety of extracurricular classes and features a gym, weight and exercise room. At the free afterschool program, which runs Monday through Thursday, the team helped the youth with homework and afterwards played a round of knockout and a pick-up game with the kids.
“It’s a great feeling,” sophomore Kai James said. “Being in a position where you can return the blessing to people who are in the position that you were once in is wonderful.”
At Pace Secondary School, an alternative school for students with special needs, the team interacted and spread encouragement to the students. They connected with the kids by sharing stories of what a day in the life of being a college student-athlete is all about, where sports have taken them and how sports have helped them overcome adversity.
One of the Seminole student-athletes even shared a personal story, expressing the difficulty of growing up in a rough environment and how being involved in sports helped to improve her situation.
“Our kids come from backgrounds where they don’t always get the opportunities where they can go to games or see people that are successful,” said Robin Blackwell, the principal at Pace Secondary School. “We thought that it would be a great idea to have [the team] out here so they could ask some questions about how they got to be in college and what they have to do to kind of motivate the kids to do the same thing – to work hard here so they can go back to a regular school and play sports. I think that’s very important.”
At the end of the event, the girls extended an invitation to the students at Pace to come and watch them play against Bethune-Cookman at the Donald L. Tucker Center on Tuesday, Nov. 18 at 11:00 a.m.
The game against Bethune-Cookman is designated as ‘Field Trip Day’ where elementary and middle schools in and around Leon County can give their students a break from the classroom to come out and enjoy watching some women’s hoops.
The women’s basketball team concluded the month with a stop at Gilchrist Elementary School to read to the students.
“It always feels good to give back,” James said. “It makes me appreciate being a college student-athlete and knowing that I can have such a large impact on a younger student’s life.”
More news from Seminole Student-Athletes in the community
Here is a look at how other FSU student-athletes are getting involved in the community:
Junior sand volleyball player Annie Montgomery recently took a mission trip to Southeast Asia with her family from September 3rd -10th. Montgomery and her family worked with other missionary families teaching volleyball skills, reading bible verses and were part of a child care team for a week.
Baseball’s Josh Delph has been giving a hand in the community by volunteering as a teacher’s aide at Leon High School. Delph has been observing and providing assistance in the classroom for a World/American history class.
The women’s basketball program teamed up with Girls on the Run (GOTR), a program that brings focus to the empowerment of women, inspiring girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running. Over 100 girls are training this season on five teams at local schools across Leon County for their first 5k. The FSU women’s team will be there to encourage and help young girls in the Tallahassee area compete in their first run.
Members of the softball team recently took part in a great team-building event, competing in the Color Run, a for profit company that partnered with Girls on the Run and the campus chapter of Habitat for Humanity at Florida State University. The team helped promote the positive work both charities have done in the area.
The Florida State softball team after participating in the Color Run in Tallahassee.