Athletics score with volunteering

Athletic teams aim to break last year’s record-breaking volunteer hours.

Head men’s basketball coach Brian Jones instructs a player at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center. Jones will coach barefoot for charity on Feb. 13. File photo.

After finishing the 2012-2013 school year off with the highest amount of volunteer hours in school history, the Athletics Director of Marketing David Primus said the teams are on pace to knock off the high mark.

So far this year, the women’s basketball team has accumulated the most volunteer hours overall and the highest average hours per player. Many of these hours came from the Relay for Life event at University Park. The team helped set up tents, raised money by getting people involved in various games and baked goods for the event.

Doing its part volunteering in the community, the football team has gone to elementary schools to read to children, helped with Pep Fest and run football camps. Junior defensive linemen Ben Henson said volunteering helps the younger athletes see the true meaning of being at UND.

“It opens their eyes to Grand Forks,” he said. “It kind of makes them aware of the people in the community and the fans who support us. I think most of them get the big picture and the fact it is more than just about football.”

Following tradition, this holiday season, some of the football players, including Hanson, are putting together Holiday Magic, an event that has been happening since 2002 in honor of Markus Bryant, a faithful UND fan, who passed away due to cancer in the fall of 2002.

On Saturday, players met at Memorial Stadium and went shopping for more than five families who each have a child in the hospital with cancer or some type of serious illness. The gifts will be given out at the hospital Saturday.

In addition to the work the football players are putting in this holiday season, earlier this fall the men’s basketball, hockey and soccer teams came together and hosted a UND Halloween trick-or-treat event at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center.

Senior basketball player Troy Huff said it was the first time he worked with all the different teams.

“It was a chance for children to get some candy, but also to interact with the athletes,” Huff said.

Even coaches, like head men’s basketball coach Brian Jones, are getting involved in the volunteering action.

Coach Jones plans to go barefoot during the  Feb. 13 match up against Montana State in hopes to raise funds for Samaritan’s Feet. It is the second year in a row Jones has been involved in such an event. Last year, in a game between UND and NDSU, both coaches went barefoot.

Senior basketball player Aaron Anderson said going barefoot shows what type of person Jones is.

“He understands the position he holds and the power he can have on fundraisers like the one he’s

helping out,” Anderson said. “Just goes to show you that he thinks about more than just basketball.”

Anderson, Director of Operations Steve Grabowski and others visited Fargo earlier this fall to take part in Samaritan’s Feet. At the event, the group washed children’s feet and handed out shoes.

After completing his first season as soccer coach, Matt Kellogg said volunteering shows character.

“It takes a special, internally motivated, driven person to succeed at this level,” he said. “You see a lot of players drive to be the best. Everything they commit to they want to succeed in. That’s why they do so well in the classroom and are determined to do lot in the community.”

Matt Kellogg and the soccer team will hold soccer camps in the spring semester and work with the Special Olympics soccer team.

Mathew McKay is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected].