This fall semester has been a very successful one for the athletic teams of Hobart and William Smith Colleges. Besides excelling in their respective sports, HWS student-athletes have been hard at work outside of the athletic arena, giving back to their community throughout the semester.
In December, 80 Hobart and William Smith student-athletes participated in the Connecting Smiles Festival. The idea of Heron swimmer Mimi Mahoney ’14, the festival brought 100 children and adults with developmental disabilities to Bristol Field House where they spent an afternoon taking part in a number of activities including playing games, learning about sports and dancing.
Earlier this semester, members of the William Smith basketball, lacrosse, and swimming and diving teams as well as the Hobart squash, tennis, basketball and hockey teams participated in HWS’s Day of Service. The Heron basketball team cleaned and painted at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, while the other student-athletes assisted in building Geneva’s new lakefront playground.
Statesmen student-athletes continued their annual tradition of ringing the bells for the Salvation Army Kettle Drive. Members of all of the Hobart teams as well as athletic department staff have been taking turns ringing the bells for the Salvation Army’s drive that provides donations each year to aid needy families, the elderly and the homeless. On Saturday, Dec. 1, Statesmen student-athletes took part in the Santa Train which allows local children and families to visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus while riding on a train around town. Hobart student-athletes assisted with all aspects of the event.
The Herons also have been hard at work with holiday-themed giving. The HWS sailing team donated funds to Thanksgiving baskets for the community. William Smith teams also raised money and purchased holiday gifts for needy families in the area. Both initiatives were led by the William Smith Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.
The football Statesmen held a Touchdowns & Tackles for Happiness House game for the third straight season. The effort raises money for Happiness House, which offers an array of educational, therapeutic, recreational and family support programs. Happiness House is noted for its excellent school for children with physical and learning disabilities, but in fact, they provide these services for adults and children with or without disabilities. Annually, Happiness House touches the lives of more than 1,000 families in the Finger Lakes region. Members of the football team also took part in West Street Elementary School’s Paws Night after school program.
The William Smith rowing team sold hot pink shoelaces this fall as part of the Laces for Lana project. Founded by the Yale Women’s crew team, Laces for Lana’s mission is for hot pink laces to become a symbol of support and hope for all touched by breast cancer as we strive to improve breast health education and awareness. All of the money from the laces is donated to the Get in Touch Foundation to support their crusade against breast cancer.
Some Hobart rowers were accepted to participate in the America Reads program. The student-athletes tutor elementary school children at six schools in the area, working one-on-one with first through third-graders on reading skills. Statesmen rowers also spent time giving back to the community on Saturday, Nov. 10, by cleaning up Castle Creek, a small tributary which runs through Bi-Centennial Park in downtown Geneva. The team walked in the canal picking up all kinds of trash. Sarah Meyer, community outreach coordinator for The Finger Lakes Institute, who helped coordinate their involvement, said of their efforts, “In terms of weight, this amount of trash is the most I have ever seen.”
Heron lacrosse players have been active with a number of local organizations. The Herons volunteered at the American Legion’s Haunted Hayride this October. All of the proceeds benefitted the local DARE program. The lacrosse team also put on a Herons’ Holiday Treat for the Troops Pasta Dinner. The event, which was hosted by the American Legion, raised more than $700 for the VA Medical Center in Canandaigua to use for holiday funds and hospital necessities.
Members of the Statesmen lacrosse team made a trip to Penfield’s Harris Hill Elementary School, where they worked with the kindergarten class, helping to cover a health and fitness unit. The lacrosse players spoke to the children about the importance of exercise and led them through a number of fun outdoor activities.
The William Smith golf team went to North Street School in October to help students with pumpkin carving activities. The Herons also gave back to Clifton Springs Country Club by painting their cart barn during preseason.
HWS sailors reached out to the community, holding two clinics this fall. HWS held a learn to sail program with a local Girl Scout troop. Sailors also held a high school racing clinic over Columbus Day weekend, where they raised $500 for cancer research.
The Heron field hockey team, along with the help of the William Smith lacrosse team and Heron athletic department, collected bottles which were returned and the money raised was given to Embrace Your Sisters, an organization which helps people of the Finger Lakes with emergency funds when faced with the diagnosis of breast cancer.
The Hobart soccer team also held a clinic for area youth this fall. The Statesmen worked with a group of children from the YMCA this fall, teaching them soccer skills and running drills. Hobart soccer players also took part in Canandaigua Academy’s third annual Pink Out event hosted by the Braves soccer program. The event promotes cancer awareness during the month of October and raises money for Embrace Your Sisters as well as the Dedrick Education Fund created in honor of the program’s beloved coach, a Hobart graduate, who passed away from stomach cancer in June.
The Herons and the Statesmen have a number of initiatives to give back on the horizon. The William Smith basketball team will be serving community lunch and holding a clinic for the Geneva modified girls’ basketball team over the winter break. In addition, the basketball Herons will participate in the Neighbors Night after school program and hold their annual Special Olympics clinic with members of the Ontario ARC. The Hobart basketball team will be helping with the Skoi Yase Elementary School gym class, and the Statesmen soccer team will be assisting with a clinic for Geneva High School’s boys’ and girls’ soccer programs.
The Heron rowing team will be conducting their annual Row for Community event, and the Hobart lacrosse team will be starting an on-going partnership with Team Impact, an organization that is committed to improving the quality of life for children facing life threatening illness by matching them with a college athletic team. The William Smith swimming and diving team will also hold its annual Special Olympics and Friends swim meet this spring.