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Women’s hoops honored for volunteering

BY AARON COOPER | JUNE 22, 2009 7:21 AM

The Iowa women’s basketball team was recognized during a ceremony June 19 at Linn-Mar High School for its community service when it received the 2009 Iowa Governor’s Volunteer Award.

The Hawkeyes are very deserving of the award, as they have taken part in numerous volunteer projects over the course of the last year, including helping sandbag the Iowa River during the floods of 2008.

Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder appreciates the recognition of the team’s hard work in the community.

“I think it is great recognition for what the team has done this past year as far as community service and community outreach,” she said. “Obviously, that is not the reason why we do it, but it’s awfully nice any time you get recognized for something like this.”

In addition to the Hawkeyes’ contributions around eastern Iowa, the honor also serves as a symbol of how much the players themselves have learned about volunteering since arriving on campus.

“I think that once college people come to school, often times they aren’t programmed to volunteer,” Bluder said. “But a part of our mission is to teach that, to teach people how to volunteer and to teach them how good it feels and I hope that once they leave it becomes a part of their character and who they are and what they are going to be like once they leave here.”

Another key component of the team’s volunteer work includes visiting various elementary schools. Bluder sees the visits to the schools as an opportunity to pass along to children some of the same values she stresses to her team every day.

“We talk about a variety of issues, from leadership, to work ethic, to nutrition and health, to the importance of reading and volunteering,” Bluder said. “I think the same things that we stand for are the same things we talk about with kids in the community.”

However, it isn’t just the community benefiting from the players’ service. The Hawkeyes themselves uses the various projects and speaking engagements to bond as a team. One such experience was carrying sandbags together to the Iowa River after the flood.

According to junior Kelsey Cermak, who will serve as a co-captain for Iowa this upcoming season, the flood relief was a project that will stick with her and her teammates for a long time.

“We helped to take wet sandbags … from one lady’s home [to the Iowa River],” Cermak said. “It was an all day thing and some of those sandbags are pretty heavy. That was actually one project that we still talk about to this day, about how crazy it was.”

Bluder stresses the value of volunteering to her team as a means of developing better people off the court and better players on the court. Indeed, Cermak explained she now understands the impact that just a few hours of their day can have on the community, thanks to her coach’s teachings.

Fittingly, only Bluder was on hand to receive the award — the rest of the team was busy devoting their weekend to its annual summer camp, where the players were busy once again passing along the values they have been learning under her.


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