IU - Involved In The Community
Nov. 16, 2006
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Kelvin Sampson-coached basketball teams are known for their competitiveness, discipline and unselfishness on the court as well as their strong presence in the local community. As Indiana opens its home schedule tonight against Indiana State, the Hoosiers have also been active throughout the city of Bloomington.
Not only do IU coaches and players make weekly appearances at local elementary schools to emphasize the value of reading and education, but they participated in the Seventh Annual Hoosiers Outrun Cancer event on Saturday, Oct. 7. In addition, they also spend an hour each Friday serving lunch at the Shalom Community Center. The Shalom Community Center is a daytime resource center for those experiencing poverty and homelessness.
Sampson said that the outreach activities are just one component of the Hoosiers' broad-based program.
"Indiana fans have such a passion for Hoosier basketball, which is why it is so important that we touch every base of the community," Sampson said. "It warms our players' and coaches' hearts to see the reception that they get from the elementary school students or how happy the visitors at the Shalom Center are to see us at lunch."
Shalom Community Center Executive Director Joel Rekas said that the IU players and coaches have made an incredible impact on the center.
"We're extremely grateful for the basketball team's participation at the Shalom Center," Rekas said. "It means a lot to the people we serve to have such highly visible people from IU spend time here. The Shalom Center commends Coach Sampson and the team for being so willing to contribute to the community."
According to senior guard Earl Calloway, the community involvement has had an equally profound influence on the players.
"It shows how fortunate and blessed we are as individuals," Calloway said. "It also means so much to give back to the community."
When they visit local schools, the IU players and staff have age-specific messages for the students.
"I told some of the older students to establish good study habits," Stemler said after his visit to Templeton Elementary School on Oct. 27. "Particularly when you get more involved in different activities, you need to have good time management skills and discipline to study on your own."
While the students love to meet and interact with IU coaches and players, assistant coach Jeff Meyer said that the outreach arrangement is just as beneficial to the Hoosier program.
"Community service is a primary objective with Coach Sampson's vision for the Indiana Basketball Program," Meyer said. "It's a tremendous opportunity to invest into the lives of young people here in Bloomington and throughout the region in an educational setting. It's not only a great opportunity but a natural fit for our program."
Although this is the first year that IU coaches and players have organized in a reading program and volunteered at the Shalom Center, participation in the Hoosiers Outrun Cancer is becoming an IU Athletics annual tradition, as the basketball team joined student-athletes and coaches from several other programs.
The mission of Hoosiers Outrun Cancer is to raise funds in support of the Olcott Center and to create awareness of the services available at the Center for people diagnosed with cancer, as well as their families and caregivers.
"I've done it every year since I've been here," fifth-year senior guard Rod Wilmont said. "It's a great thing, especially for one of our teammates because his sister died from cancer. We come out here every year to support him and support the community, and it's a good thing for the team to come together at the same time."
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