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AFH University’s Southern Baseball Beautifies Local School

AFH University’s Southern Baseball Beautifies Local School

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

Announcing the Winners of the 2020 AFH U Student-Athlete and Team of the Year Awards

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!


Vote for AFH U 2019-20 Student-Athlete and Team of the Year

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 Saveljic

“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.”











Southern Baseball

“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!


USC Athletes Give Back During the Day in Troy Event

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.

AFH Staff Highlight: Suzanne Potts

The famous basketball coach Phil Jackson once said, “The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.” At Athletes for Hope, our team is strong because of people like our Director of Athletes for Hope University, Suzanne Potts. Suzanne comes to us with extensive nonprofit experience and an intense love for all things data. We sat down with Suzanne to ask her what drives her in her day to day work at AFH and what excites her most about the future of the organization.

What is your role at AFH?

My role at AFH is as the Director for Athletes for Hope University and I also manage all the Measurement and Evaluation (M&E) for the organization.  As AFH U Director, I get to educate and connect with thousands of student-athletes from various university partners across the country. We educate hundreds of new student-athletes each year and have thousands engaged in service in their community. We’ve seen a tremendous increase in service hours, athlete engagement, and positive news stories about student-athletes with more focused evaluation techniques and outreach. I enjoy seeing our AFH team dig deeper into analyzing our impact, looking at how we collect, analyze and share our data with stakeholders.  I truly think we’ve become a data-driven organization that focuses on evidence-based approaches to our work, and it’s exciting to see this evolution as a small nonprofit.

What has been your favorite AFH moment?

My favorite AFH moment has been coming out and visiting with AFH U student-athletes on their campus and facilitating our workshops with them. They have such enthusiasm, optimism and wonderful ideas on how they can best serve their community. I love hearing their discussions when we debate our “Agree/Disagree/Unsure” activity about athlete obligation to serve and am always so inspired by their dedication to academics, their respective sports and then adding service to others in their lives. Student-athletes are the best role models for young kids and communities as they are excelling on and off the field, and they have a huge opportunity to motivate others to lead positive, healthy lifestyles.

What makes AFH unique?

I believe what makes us unique is our ability to connect athletes to service and convene groups of athletes to causes that they may not have previously engaged with. We have such a broad network of partners and communities and paired with our over 5000 athletes who have done educational workshops with us we can really fill a huge gap for communities. I love that we help athletes individually or as teams identify and discover their passions, and then actually connect them with opportunities in those areas. It’s so awesome when you get to see these athletes do a school or hospital visit and see firsthand the impact they had just by spending an hour or so with others in need.

What excites you about the future?

I get excited to see how many more opportunities our student-athletes will have to engage in service both during school and post-graduation. We’re working to establish a really robust program that will support their service needs for more than just during their time on campus. We’re establishing life-long philanthropists with these student-athletes, and I hope to see long term outcomes with them engaged in service well after they step off the playing field. We’re just getting started to see what student-athletes can do in service for others, and our Alumni program and longer-term LinkedIn Group provide some ongoing support for those who want to continue on as AFH Athletes post-graduation. I am excited to do more Alumni Service projects on campus or bring back student-athletes to their universities to share their service experience with a new batch of student-athletes!


AFH University: Volunteering in Their Own Words

On Saturday, January 26th Athletes for Hope University participated in Louisiana Key Academy’s First Family Health & Sports Day. Four teams along with Baton Rouge Soccer Club came out and lead sports stations for not only kids but the entire family. The event encouraged healthy lifestyles for parents and students through interactive food preparation and various sports skills sessions.

We often share photos from our athlete connections, but this time we wanted to share what the experience meant to the athletes themselves. Here is what the AFH U student athletes had to say about volunteering last week.

Southern Soccer

“We had the privilege of playing games with and getting to know such amazing children at a youth field day for kids with dyslexia! It was a fantastic experience and I’m so glad that I got to share this experience with my teammates and other athletes of the Baton Rouge community!” -Amya Webb

“It was so fun working with the kids and seeing them put so much energy into what we taught. It feels good to be able to help and give back especially to my own community.”- Skylar Randall

“Today was an amazing experience. It was very fun watching the kids play against each other. They all kept great attitudes the entire time and really made our volunteering experience easy and enjoyable.” -Tempest Shepherd

LSU Soccer

“It’s so fulfilling to come out on a beautiful Saturday morning and work with kids. We showed them how playing soccer and getting active outside is so important and beneficial to mental & physical health” – Marlena Cutura

‘It was nice to get out and help BRSC and LKA with their health and sport camp today. Helping the kids develop their soccer and health understanding was great to be a part of.’ – Lucy Parker

LSU Volleyball

“I loved interacting with both the kids and the parents at field day today. It’s so fun to see the joy that volleyball and other sports bring them.”- Anna Zwiebel

“The LA Key Academy Field Day was a great way to start the morning! I had a blast teaching volleyball to the kids and parents.”-Sydney Mukes

“It was awesome to share our sport with children at the LA Key Academy on a beautiful day. We were even impressed by their parents’ participation and are excited to see our sport grow in the community.”- Katie Kampen

LSU Football

“Today was a lot of fun! We got to play soccer and volleyball with a great group of kids. Encouraging them and being open to talk to them about their dyslexia will go a long way in building their confidence and belief that they can do anything!”- Josh Growden

“It was such a fun experience to get out in the Baton Rouge community and connect with the kids. Being able to be active with them and for them to see what is possible if they set goals is incredible. We are so appreciative of Athletes for Hope for setting up events like this because often times the kids can have more of an impact on us than we do on them!”- Blake Ferguson

Thanks to all the AFH University student athletes who took time out of their busy schedules to give back to the kids. We’d also like to thank our funders The Pennington Family Foundation and Nike for allowing us to continue this valuable program in the Baton Rouge area.