In between late night practices and early morning workouts, several Oklahoma Christian University athletic teams took a break from their work on the field and in the classroom to volunteer at various locations in the Edmond community.
The women’s softball and men’s basketball teams each volunteered at the Wings Pumpkin Patch Sept. 20, where, according to Associate Head Softball Coach Jessica Ruckman, they were able to give back to the community.
“I think Oklahoma Christian provides a lot of great opportunities for student athletes to serve in the community, as many organizations look to OC for help with various events during the year,” Ruckman said. “Many of them are asked to help on very short notice and they do a great job of volunteering their time when time is very hard to come by for a student athlete.”
According to senior softball player Niki Davidson, some members of the team watered the plants at Wings, while others were in charge of picking up pumpkins that had started to rot.
“We were able to meet some of the generous people who make sure the pumpkin patch runs smoothly, and although we did not get to see any of the Wings members while we were there, it was still a fun experience knowing that we were able to help them out by giving up a bit of our time,” Davidson said. “We are very blessed and have a lot of opportunities presented to us as student athletes, so helping out in our community is a simple way to give back and show our gratitude for what we are able to do.”
According to Wings’ mission statement, it works to enhance the lives of adults with developmental disabilities through social, vocational and residential programs, guided by principles of the Bible. The annual pumpkin patch includes a corn maze and pumpkin train, and is open until Oct. 30.
“Oklahoma Christian has a great relationship with Wings and it has become somewhat of a tradition for our student athletes to help out when we can, especially as they prepare for their Fall Festival,” Ruckman said. “Anytime we have our athletes volunteer in the community, we hope they realize that there is more to life than points on a scoreboard and GPAs.”
The Lady Eagles basketball team found another way to volunteer in Edmond, when they unloaded clothing, furniture and toys at Memorial Road Church of Christ for Lilyfield Christian Adoption and Foster Care Sept. 9.
“To volunteer at Lilyfield is to help benefit a family who has given their time to serve the Lord in adopting a child who needs a home,” senior basketball player Hannah Holasek said. “I think the favorite part of the experience for both me and the team was the feeling of knowing we were giving back to the community and to families in need around the community.”
According to its mission statement, Lilyfield has worked to serve more than 600 birth-mothers and has placed more than 111 children in homes since its founding in 2000. The agency works to provide services to women in unplanned pregnancies, couples wishing to adopt and foster families and children.
“It is important for student athletes to volunteer in the community and give back some of the support that the community offers to all our events,” Holasek said. “It shows that we do care and want to be more involved with the people who provide constant support no matter what.”
According to junior Tripp Fuller, the men’s basketball team has volunteered this year at the annual FCA banquet, the Chisolm Elementary Family Fun Night and at Wings, but are constantly looking for other ways to benefit their campus and community.
“I think having the heart of a servant is a very important attribute for athletes to possess,” Fuller said. “Society as a whole is becoming more and more self-involved, and as a result, servitude is often forgotten. As student-athletes on our campus, I think it is extremely important for us to always be looking for ways to serve.”
Ruckman said she hopes when Oklahoma Christian athletes volunteer, they get a sense of joy as they give back to the community.
“I think it’s important for college athletes to find a way to get involved in something other than athletics,” Ruckman said. “There are so many people in the community that support OC athletics and enable our students to do what they love. I believe the athletes’ service in the community can teach valuable lessons that can be used on the field and in life.”