Women’s Team Outreaches the Goal

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Written by: KaiLee Viehland; Photo by: Clinton Lewis

The Lady Topper basketball team does more than play ball–they dedicate themselves to community outreach. They are more than student athletes. They are caring ambassadors for Western Kentucky University.

For years, the women’s basketball team has been giving back to the community in the form of service. They work with several organizations in the area such as The Center for Courageous Kids, Warren County Public Schools, Bowling Green/Warren County Humane Society, and the Salvation Army.

Another organization the Lady Toppers work with is the Boys & Girls Club. Last summer, in the off-season, the players went to the Boys & Girls Club and hosted a camp for the youth. They played games and did drills with the kids, but most importantly, they simply hung out and interacted with them. There was no hidden agenda. The Lady Toppers were just there to spend time with the kids for the day.

The team constantly looks for new ways to get involved in the community. One new event was the “Spread the Red” Education Day held last month in Diddle Arena. All third through sixth graders in Warren County were invited to enjoy a boxed lunch and a game at no cost. The atmosphere at Diddle Arena was infused with energy and Hilltopper spirit. It was also a record-breaking game for the Lady Toppers. They broke their attendance record with 7,100 in attendance and went on to to beat South Alabama with the support of their pint-sized fans.

In addition to the Spread the Red Education Day, the Lady Toppers also had a Pink Game to honor and recognize those who have breast cancer or have survived it. In January, they had a Critter Classic game where they asked fans to bring in a type of cleaning supply to be donated to the local Humane Society in exchange for a free ticket to the game.

Even though some of the events do bring people to the games, the women and coaching staff do not participate in community involvement or host events to receive recognition or get a job-well-done pat on the back.

“We do it as a means to give back. They’re obviously here to play ball, but they’re also here to give back and help the community. By getting out there and being involved in the community, the girls can touch people’s lives. They can also serve as role models. Whenever we went to the Boys & Girls Club last summer everyone was running up asking for their autographs. You could tell that the children were so excited for them to be there,” said Julia Reed, Women’s Basketball Graduate Assistant/Travel Coordinator.

Reed said the team is currently working on becoming involved in a mentoring program. They hope to go in and read to students. At some of their events there is not always a lot of time to sit down and talk to all the children and tell them how they arrived at the collegiate level. They hope to be able to do this with the mentoring program, since it is important for children to relate to the athletes and see that they can play at the collegiate level too.

Between being on the road and balancing class schedules, it is hard to arrange times for everyone to be available to participate in the community outreach events. However, it is important to Western Kentucky University, the coaches, and the player.

When asked if the community outreach had any effect on the players, Reed said, “The girls will come in and ask if there is anything they can do or anyone they can help out. They really do care about the community and giving back is important to each and every one of them.”

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