Written by Isabella Legarza, former MSU Women’s Volleyball player and current Athletes for Hope intern.
As we continue to move forward in this ever-changing world, a pandemic isn’t going to stop Michigan State Spartans from participating in community service. Since the fall, student-athletes have been under extreme COVID-19 protocols in order to compete in their respected sport. In honor of National Nutrition Month, Michigan State Student-Athletes teamed up with Athletes for Hope and Feeding America to provide meals for those in need in the Greater Lansing area.
After brainstorming COVID-safe service opportunities, Athletes for Hope presented a “Contact-less Food Donation Drive.” The Contact-less Food Drive provided multiple ways of involvement. Spartans were encouraged to collect non- perishables, where an AFH intern would be notified where and when to pick up the donations and drop them off at the Food Bank – keeping this COVID-safe. Another option was to encourage donations as low as $1; for every $1 donated 10 meals were provided in the Greater Lansing Area.
As the National Nutrition Month comes to an end, we are excited to report the great work that has been done. Over 8,000 meals will be provided to the Greater Lansing community. We are so proud of the Spartan participation. Together, we can connect, raise awareness and inspire those around us.
Athletes for Hope (AFH) was honored at East Baton Rouge School Board’s February meeting in recognition of the AFH University program’s dedication to students in the community. During the fall semester, student athletes from Southern and LSU provided story time and fitness videos in partnership with Volunteers in Public Schools that was shared with schools throughout the city.
“We wanted to acknowledge Athletes for Hope this month for their contribution of exercise videos and story times that teachers can use with their in-person and virtual students. It is important that children stay active and continue to read. With these videos, our hope is that they are motivated and see that staying healthy by exercising their minds and their bodies is important. It is also important for them to see collegiate volunteers showing their support and encouraging them to take care of themselves, and hopefully inspire them to pursue higher education.” -Kaia Simmons, VIPS Volunteer and Community Partners Director
“It was an honor to represent Athletes for Hope at the East Baton Rouge School Board meeting. Even though we have been limited with in-person service, through Volunteers In Public Schools we have been able to continue teaching, connecting, and inspiring the youth virtually this year. I can’t wait to see how we can reach our schools in other creative ways this semester.” -Aubrion James, Southern Softball and AFH Intern
On Tuesday, August 11th Southern Baseball partnered with Volunteers in Public Schools for a campus beautification project at Cedarcrest-Southmoor Elementary. With a donation from Mid City Redevelopment, the team of 50 were able to help beautify the school’s campus by cleaning and planting flower beds and gardens.
”It is always great to get out to help as a team as much as we possibly can. Giving back to public schools in Louisiana is extremely important and we’re happy to serve our community in that way. It makes us feel good and people we’re helping feel good.” – Hampton Hudson, AFH SU Basbeball
“I went to public schools in New Orleans. So being able to give back to public schools and give them the help they need is always important to me. It also gives us an opportunity to show our new teammates what it is like to give back. I hope they take something back from every community service project.”- Jacob Snyder, AFH SU Baseball
“We are excited to be here at Cedarcrest doing some beautification projects while the kids are away. When they come back to school after the virtual learning environment, they’ll come back to a great campus. We would like to thank Mid City Redevelopment for their donation of the tools. We had all 50 of our guys out here today and it was a beautiful experience. ”- Coach Kerrick Jackson, Southern Baseball
“We have had an amazing morning at Cedarcrest. They were able to clean out our school garden and make the entrance of our school very inviting. Even though we don’t have students here right now we are constantly preparing for their return. We would like to thank our community partners for working along with us for this project.”- Ms. Sylvain, Cedarcrest-Southmoor Elementary Principal
On May 11, 2020, Athletes for Hope University launched the voting campaign for its second annual National AFH U Student-Athlete and Team of the Year Awards. The goal of the national awards is to recognize individual student-athletes and teams for their dedication to volunteering and serving with their communities. During the 2019-20 school year, four student-athletes and four teams from AFH U sites across the U.S. were nominated through monthly nominations.
After two weeks of online voting and social media promotion, the national voting campaign received 4,578 votes.
We are so proud to announce LSU Volleyball’s Sydney Mukes as the AFH U Student-Athlete of the Year and Southern Women’s Soccer as the AFH U Team of the Year!
Sydney played an integral role in the service nature of the LSU Volleyball team and made a lasting impact at Glasgow Middle School in Baton Rouge.
“Sydney gives her heart and soul to everything she does,” said Fran Flory, the head coach of the LSU Tigers indoor volleyball team. “She loves helping others most and making a positive difference in their lives. Her involvement in our community, especially Glasgow Middle School reflects that commitment. She makes others around her better.”
The Southern Women’s Soccer team embodied service and showed a strong commitment to giving back by showing up in large numbers at events. At the time of their nomination, they had most recently volunteered for the Susan G Komen’s Race for the Cure and cheered on survivors at the finish line.
Both Sydney and the LSU Volleyball team and the Southern Women’s Soccer team worked collaboratively to make an impact in the Baton Rouge community. We are very thankful for their commitment to service and are proud to award them this recognition!
Throughout the past academic year, we have honored student-athletes and teams with monthly awards for their dedication to volunteering and serving with their communities. During this unprecedented time, we believe it’s important to continue to recognize student-athletes for going above and beyond to support causes that matter the most to them.
This month, we will celebrate our nominated student-athletes and teams during our two-week voting campaign where the community will choose a National Athletes for Hope University (AFH U) Student-Athlete and Team of the Year. Voting starts Monday, May 11 and runs through 11:59pm on May 25, 2020. Vote as often as you’d like to increase the chance of your favorite student-athlete or team to win this national recognition for their dedication to service and community!
Below you can find the list of nominated student-athletes and teams, as well as why they were nominated. Once you have read through the list, don’t forget to vote for your favorite student-athlete, team, or both!
AFH U Student-Athletes of the Month:
Taryn Antoine, LSU Softball
“Taryn started the year eager to get active in the Baton Rouge community. She visited Louisiana Key Academy and spoke to a class about her love of softball and the importance of staying physically active.”
Meredith Norris, MSU Volleyball
“Meredith Norris is the team lead for the Michigan State Women’s Volleyball team, and has been instrumental in getting her team involved in the community. Meredith helps coordinate the teams’ weekly visits to a local school to promote physical fitness. Additionally Meredith makes sure that the 3-4 visiting student-athletes are prepared for the visit in order to make sure the visit is as impactful as possible. The team will continue its weekly visits for the remainder of the semester.”
Sydney Mukes, LSU Volleyball
“Sydney is a passionate leader on and off of the court. She has played an integral role in the service nature of the LSU Volleyball team. Since her freshman year, Sydney has made a lasting impact at Glasgow Middle School and numerous non-profit organizations in the Baton Rouge Community.”
“Nicolas and his UCLA student-athletes were among the first group to collaborate to send out a video, encouraging others to “stay safe and stay home” during this global pandemic. He’s always willing to offer help, to support families in need and coordinated across multiple teams and sports to make a video for the community. We are so grateful for his leadership and dedication to service!”
AFH U Teams of the Month:
Ohio State Cross Country
“OSU Cross Country picked up right where they left off last year. This month a small group of runners visited a local Marathon Kids Club on two occasions to recognize the kids for their participation in the program. Now that the Marathon Kids Club season has come to an end in Columbus, the OSU Cross Country is transitioning to monthly visits to the Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Their first visit is scheduled for Nov. 7th.”
Michigan State Women’s Tennis
“The Michigan State Women’s Tennis Team is doing great work with Marble Elementary School in East Lansing, Michigan. The team visits the school one to two times a month to promote physical fitness with the students. Using the C.H.A.M.P.S. curriculum, the student-athletes facilitate physical fitness activities and character development exercises along with facilitating group discussions.”
Southern Women’s Soccer
“Southern Soccer embodies service and has a commitment to giving back! Their team shows up in numbers at service events. They most recently volunteered for Susan G Komen’s Race for the Cure and cheered on survivors at the finish line.”
“The Southern Baseball team embraced Athletes for Hope’s response to Covid-19 via the AFH Fit at Home program. Several players from the team filmed short videos that promoted physical fitness and healthy lifestyles. The videos were then distributed to families across the country.”
You can vote for your favorite student-athlete, team, or both here!
On March 3, 2019 the AFH U team was excited to attend the Day in Troy event with several of the University of Southern California (USC) student-athlete teams. We were on site to help kick off the educational and fun day with an hour long Empowerment workshop with over 50 student-athletes from USC Rowing, Golf, Track and Field, and Soccer.
These student-athletes then took what they’d learned at the workshop and jumped right into the Day in Troy event on campus with over 5,000 kids and families from LA City Schools that were invited to participate. Student-athletes signed posters, cards and shirts while kids played carnival games, watched a Trojan Outreach video and Women’s Basketball game at the Galen Center. We loved being there to educate and inspire a new round of student-athletes to service, and seeing them put their enthusiasm to work by engaging with such a large group from the community. We look forward to connecting these teams to service and recognizing those efforts in the community. These student-athletes are excelling on the fields and in their academics and we couldn’t be prouder to work with them! Photos courtesy Scot Obler, Board of USC Trojan Outreach.