Oct. 8, 2010
Ask a handful of people to define success and chances are that you will receive a handful of very different answers. Personal in nature and ever-changing, perhaps success is more a process than a destination. In any case, in athletics, success is often defined as outscoring your opponent, winning championships and developing a powerhouse program.
In addition to their work in the classroom and playing field, many Wildcat student-athletes have realized that their impact as a student-athlete extends well beyond their athletic achievements. The student-athlete community service program is one of the many UA programs that allows student-athletes to get involved in the community and to develop skills that will last a life-time. On a weekly basis, UA student-athletes volunteer their time to give back to community that supports them in their athletic and educational endeavors. Often at a premium, free time is hard to come by in the lives of student-athletes. This is why so many UA teams have made giving back a priority from the very start of the school year.
The UA football team is just one of the UA's 19 teams that have set out to make a difference on a weekly basis. At one of the first team meetings of the semester, Coach Stoops and company decided that in addition to winning and working hard this season, they were going to set out to do something new: visit hospitalized youth every week of a home game.
"It is so important that the players, and all of us for that matter, realize that caring for and helping others is a mandatory part of the human experience. We can all get so caught up in our own lives that we lose track of what a difference we can make in the lives of others just by taking time to do so," said Stoops regarding their plan to visit University Medical Center (UMC).
The first visit took place the Friday before their first home game versus The Citadel. Ten UA football players in addition to Coach Stoops set out to brighten the days of many children who have spent extended time in the hospital. The group visited a variety of patient bedsides to try and break up the monotony that often accompanies time spent in the hospital.
The team was able to visit a range of patients who were excited to see many of the Wildcats they watch on TV. The first trip to UMC was a positive experience for the student-athletes.
"It was phenomenal, really eye-opening that we [student-athletes] can reach out and affect their day just by spending a little time with them," said Senior Defensive Back, Victor Yates.
Not only did they enjoy cheering up hospitalized youth, they found that these children actually brought a smile to their faces as well. Yates explained how the players even sang happy birthday to one patient who was spending his birthday in the hospital.
As competitors these student-athletes value winning, but on these visits they realized that there is something more important than simply wins and losses, it is about making a difference and giving back to those in need. Although success can be measured in many different ways, it is clear that the UA football program is taking a more holistic view in defining how they achieve their goals.
The UA football players are just some of the 475 Wildcat student-athletes who will be out in the community this year. On a weekly basis, these student-athletes are focused on setting high standards on the playing field, in the classroom and in the community and are off to a great start this year.