Dec. 14, 2002
WADSWORTH, Ohio — “All of it,” bright-eyed 10-year-old Maria said, when asked what her favorite part of Saturday’s Florida State women’s basketball clinic at Sacred Heart Catholic Elementary School was. College athletics is all about tradition and one such tradition the Seminole women’s basketball team has established is performing community service while on the road.
“Our quote this week is by Thomas Elliot and it says that, ‘Tradition can not be inherited and if you want it, you must obtain it by great labor,'” FSU head coach Sue Semrau said. “So, in addition to developing a winning tradition at Florida State, there are other traditions we feel are important to help us be unique and special as a program. We want to be givers on the court and anytime we can give in the community then we are creating habits that are strong habits for not only the time they spend in college, but lifelong lessons and good habits for throughout their lives.”
It started two seasons ago when FSU conducted clinics in Orlando, Fla., and in Harlem, while visiting the New York area on its Christmas trip. Last year, the Seminoles performed clinics at former Seminole April Traylor’s grade school in Martinsville, Ind., as well as at the YMCA in Thomasville, Ga., former Seminole Lakesha Springle’s hometown. It was a way to help the community as well as honor FSU’s seniors. With FSU playing at Akron, just 13 miles from senior Katelyn Vujas’ hometown of Wadsworth, it only seemed natural for the Seminoles to lend a helping hand to the area youth.
“Mike and Janice Vujas are the head of the Catholic Youth Organization for Sacred Heart,” Tracey Arnone, the principal at Sacred Heart School said. “Everybody always asks how Katelyn is doing and when we found out she was coming to Akron, Mike and Janice asked if FSU could do a clinic here and of course, we were honored. We really are the honored ones that they came here.”
Nearly 70 youngsters, ranging from third to eighth grade, from Vujas’ elementary school, Sacred Heart, participated in a 90-minute clinic put on by the Seminoles. After head coach Sue Semrau talked to the kids about the importance of working hard in school and in sports, and listening to your parents, each Seminole introduced herself and told the eager listeners where she was from and what her major is.
Vujas and fellow captain Trinetta Moore led the group in stretching exercises to get things started and then the children were separated into groups by age. Each group rotated from station to station, learning different techniques along the way. Moore and freshman Hannah Linquist taught the kids how to do lay ups while Vujas and sophomore Genesis Choice gave pointers on rebounding. There were also lessons on ball handling, proper passing techniques and defensive footwork.
“It was fun and I learned a lot about ball handling and rebounding,” Emily, a 13-year-old post player who wants to play college basketball said.
After each group went through all six stations, there was a question-and-answer session in which the kids could ask the Seminoles or the coaches anything. Finally, the participants, as a unit, played a game called “Land, Sea, Air,” a “Simon-Says” type of contest that worked on their listening skills – another important aspect of being a good athlete. The kids were able to win prizes such as FSU women’s basketball key chains, posters and tee-shirts.
Following the clinic, the children were able to get autographs and take pictures with their new heroes. There were plenty of smiles and although the time was short, the kids really seemed to learn a lot of important lessons:
Katie, 14. “It was really cool to interact with a college team and it was fun to see the coaches and the players. They’re really nice and down to earth.”
Sean, 10,. “Today was great. They taught us a bunch of stuff.”
Rachel, 14. “I learned the basics about ball handling and what it takes to get a scholarship to play college basketball. I hope to do it some day.”
Kelly, 13. “I learned to yell out when you rebound from Katelyn and Gen. I also learned some better ball handling skills and how to play defense.”
Laurel, 14. “I learned today how to work together as a team and how to play good defense. The Seminoles interacted good with each other and are nice to each other and you can tell they just get along good.”
Anthony, 10. “They were good. I liked the lay ups. Florida State is now one of my favorite teams.”
While the Florida State players may have picked up a few more fans in Wadsworth, Ohio, there will always be one player who is number one in the Sacred Heart Tigers’ hearts.
“It was fun and we’ve been waiting to see Katelyn for awhile,” 13-year-old Jen said. “She’s always just to far away and it’s exciting to see her now.”
“It was excellent,” Arnone said. “We will be talking about this for years to come, you can be sure about that. You can just see that the kids are in awe of this whole thing. You can be sure that they listened to every word and they will be doing all of those little drills when they go home today. When we look at athletes like these, we put them way up on a pedestal. For the kids to see how down to earth and just the real good people that these athletes are is as important as seeing their athletic ability. They are just all-around, well-rounded people.”
The Seminoles play the University of Akron on Sunday, December 14 at 2 p.m.