WSU student-athletes contribute more than 1,000 hours of community service

Westfield State SAAC members pose after wrapping presents for the Secret Santa program. (Photo courtesy of Westfield State University Sports)

WESTFIELD – Westfield State University student-athletes contributed more than 1,000 hours of community service this fall.
Varsity teams and athletes participated in a variety of activities throughout the fall semester, beginning with Move in Day as fall student athletes served as the “Big Blue Move In Crew,” helping out new students as they moved into campus.
Among numerous activities, for the ninth straight year, Westfield State’s alumni field was the site for the Western Mass Special Olympics Flag Football and Cheerleading championships. Owls’ student athletes served as hosts, timers and referees for the event which included hundreds of special Olympic athletes competing for the chance to play at Gillette Stadium. Owls’ cheerleaders held a clinic for the Special Olympic Cheerleaders
Baseball players visited second graders at Munger Hill School in Westfield and did a Q and A session enlightening students on the possibilities in their academic careers, followed by playing schoolyards games with the kids.
The field hockey team conducted a food and can drive. The men’s basketball team hosted a clinic for Westfield Suburban League youth basketball players. The football team participated in landscaping clean-up for the Westfield Second Congregational church, located next door to the Westfield State campus.
The women’s basketball team volunteered at the Westfield Boys and Girls Club as part of the Elks Club Hoop Shoot, serving as rebounders and tallying totals for the kids competing.
“The team really enjoyed helping the young players out and supporting them, and a lot of fun to be around younger players that love the game,” said Owls’ head coach Andrea Bertini.
The hockey team read to elementary school students through the ROAR program in the Westfield Elementary Schools.
And to cap the semester, Westfield State’s Student Athlete Advisory Committee adopted 12 families in the annual ‘secret santa’ program in conjunction with Westfield’s Volunteers in Public Schools program, providing gifts for 30 children. Student athletes donated more than $900 to provide the gifts.
“The annual Secret Santa giving program is at the heart of community service in the Athletics Department,” said associate athletic director Nancy Bals. “It is a crucial part of our mission to engage student-athletes in social responsibility and citizenship. Like other areas of leadership, the student-athletes embrace this aspect and have gone above and beyond with the Secret Santa program for fifteen straight years. The program was initiated in 2005 by Student-Athlete Advisory Council member Betty Dely, a basketball player who wanted all underprivileged kids to have presents at Christmas. It has been an absolute pleasure to collaborate with Volunteers in Public Schools of Westfield to adopt children in need and have the student-athletes donate money and personally shop for every single one of them.”
According to the department’s mission statement, ‘The athletics department is committed to initiating, stimulating, and improving intercollegiate athletics by promoting physical fitness and sports participation. Leadership development and teaching social responsibility and citizenship are also priorities.’
On the field of play, Westfield State’s women’s cross-country, women’s soccer and volleyball teams won MASCAC regular-season titles, with the volleyball team winning the conference tournament and advancing to the NCAA Tournament. After the fall semester, the Owls are currently third in the MASCAC’s Smith Cup standings – signifying the best overall program in the league based on across the board success in all of the school’s varsity sport offering. Westfield has been the league’s Smith Cup Champion in four of the last five years.
The Owls teams are currently taking a break from competition for finals week and the winter break.
Men’s basketball will be the first team to return to action when they travel to Roger Williams University for a game on Mon., Dec. 30. – Courtesy of Westfield State Sports

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