Hawkeye athletes volunteer for Day of Caring

BY CLARK CAHILL | APRIL 27, 2009 7:26 AM

Iowa City community members are used to supporting Hawkeye student-athletes during their sporting events. But Sunday morning, the support was reversed.

Nearly 300 UI athletes participated in the 10th-annual Hawkeye Day of Caring — with groups of up to 50 athletes traveling to more than 10 different sites in the Iowa City area to give back to the public.

The annual event is organized by the Iowa Student Athlete Advisory Committee to increase the level of community service among its teams and individuals, said Lissa Munley, the service head of the committee.

“We are trying to get as many students out in the community to volunteer their time and help out,” said the UI senior and field-hockey player. “We want to make the area look better and thank the community for their support of our athletes.”

Activities ranged from cleaning parks and creeks, to helping with the RiverRun and assisting with a carnival event at a nursing home.

Members of the Hawkeye football, wrestling, and men’s track teams worked at the Iowa City roller dam — cleaning dead brush and trees causing erosion problems. They also helped build a portage so canoers can safely bypass the roller dam and continue along the river.

“The dam is not very accessible right now,” said Noah Poppelreiter, an Iowa City public-works intern. “We’re just trying to clean up the area because this is not what a river area should look like.”

Manual labor was not the only activity athletes took part in during the event. Members of the field-hockey team helped out at Windmill Manor in Coralville, assisting with a carnival event for residents and their families. Activities included karaoke, face-painting, bowling, and playing Wii.

“I think it’s great for these [athletes] to have the willingness to volunteer,” said Steve Drobot, an administrator at Windmill Manor. “I think it gives the residents a little bit of an oomph in their spirits to have them out here.”

Many athletes felt giving back to the community could also help fill the stands at future sporting events.

“Hopefully, by helping the community, we can get the fan base up at Carver for the wrestling team,” said Montell Marion, a sophomore wrestler. “It might be hard to get through [the work], but it feels good to help out.”

Jessica Werley, a junior field-hockey player, agreed with the mutual aspect of volunteering her time.

“I do it a lot on my own a lot of times; it’s great to be involved in the community,” she said. “They get to know the university athletics, and it gets more people to come out to our [games].”

Though the Day of Caring was only a few hours for teams to give back, it isn’t the only time UI athletics supports local agencies.

“There are other things we do, it just depends on the time of year,” said Tori Garifo, a freshman field-hockey player. “As a team we have a lot of fun doing it, so it’s not that bad.”

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