Hoosiers Host Bloomington Boys & Girls Club Over Break
Jan. 4, 2007
In keeping with the spirit of the holiday season, Indiana's men's and women's swimming teams gave something back to the community on Dec. 29, hosting 21 children from the Bloomington Boys & Girls Club at the Counsilman-Billingsley Aquatic Center for a couple of hours of play and education.
"For many of those youngsters, it was their first time to see a pool of this size and quality, and they had a great time," Indiana head coach Ray Looze said. "The idea was to do some good role modeling with our kids and show the Boys & Girls Club kids what's possible if you work hard in school and in sports."
Indiana swimmers introduced the children to the water, playing games with them and even teaching some how to swim and dive.
"Some of them weren't really water proficient, so we had to keep them above water," senior Ryan McNeill said. "It was actually a lot of fun, because some of them were kind of hesitant to get in the water at first because they hadn't had a lot of exposure, so just being able to show the kids that water can be fun and safe was a lot of fun."
Sophomore Katie Mitsch said the Hoosiers had as much fun as the children did.
"We had our inner tubes and water polo balls and the kids could throw the balls," Mitsch said. "We had some noodles out and they were slapping those around, so we had to take those back. I think we were probably worse than the children were, as far as playing with all the toys."
After an hour of playing in the shallow end of the pool, the teams took the children over to the dive well.
"There was this really little girl who probably weighed no more than 40 pounds, and she went off the three-meter and (IU freshman) Amilee Smith caught her from the air," Mitsch said. "She wouldn't even get in the shallow end, but she would jump off those boards. She was really, really cute."
McNeill underscored the importance of giving back to the area that is so synonymous with Indiana University.
"It's really important to give back to the community, because a lot of these kids really don't have the resources to get out and participate in this kind of activity," McNeill said. "And whether we know it or not, we're actually role models for a lot of the kids in the community. A lot of them look up to IU student-athletes as people they might want to become in the future. So just being able to give them the opportunity to interact with us and have the student-athletes interact with the kids, I think it was rewarding on both sides."
Mitsch shared McNeill's sentiments, and was pleased that the entire team showed up.
"You could tell that it was important for everyone to be there," she said. "It was a good idea. It was something that was important to Coach Looze because we'd never done it before, and I think he'd always wanted to do a service activity. I think a lot of the other sports teams try to do something, so this ended up working out perfectly. It's hard because you don't know whether little kids will want to come and play in the pool or not, but we were fortunate enough to get a really good group of kids that we could work with really well. It was nice. It was fun."
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