Voice Magazine / Stories / 2015 Spring / Athletes Give Back
Athletes Give Back

Athletes Give Back

Football team speaks at Orangewood Children and Family Center, Women’s Soccer reads Dr. Seuss, and Leopards volunteer at Special Olympics.

Football Team Speaks at Orangewood Children and Family Center

Before the 2014 season started, Lorenzo Marks, Travis Sparks and Justin Gomez of the La Verne football team spoke to children who were the victims of abuse, neglect and abandonment at the Orangewood Children and Family Center.

What made it even more inspiring was the players set up the service on their own initiative and approached the coaches about the opportunity.

Marks, who was introduced to the foundation by his mother and had been volunteering for about a year, says he was moved by other guest speakers including former Major League Baseball player Jim Abbott and fellow collegiate athletes—and decided to share his story with the kids.

He then asked Gomez and Sparks if they wanted to join him and his teammates jumped at the opportunity.

The three Leopards spoke about life in college, football and their future. After each of them spoke, they held a Q&A session during which the kids asked about their favorite foods, “planking,” and much more.

Afterwards, they tossed the pig- skin, shot hoops and danced with the children.

Marks recalled a young girl who was too shy to approach him to say hello. He says it made him realize how much he and his teammates’ being there meant to the kids.

“At first, we didn’t even realize she wanted to talk to us,” Marks said. “But a volunteer came up to us and told us that she had been trying to get our attention five or six times. It’s really special to the kids that people come and talk to them.”

Women’s Soccer Reads Dr. Seuss

In Spring 2014, La Verne women’s soccer team read Dr. Seuss books to students at the Lopez Elementary School as a part of the celebration of Read Across America Day, also known as Dr. Seuss Day.

Members of the team and the coaching staff each put on the signature tall red-and-white striped hat worn by the Cat in the Hat in Dr. Seuss’ books and read to students of grades K-6.

After a welcoming assembly and a remark from the principal, each member of the team headed to different classrooms, read along with the students and talked about the books.

“Community service is a big part of what we do and who we are as a part of the women’s soccer team,” head coach Lauryn Pehanich said. “To take the time and go and be a part of something like Read Across America is very beneficial for the women — it allows them to bring joy to others and represent the University in a positive way.”

Leopards Volunteer at Special Olympics

Each year, La Verne student-athletes across all sports spend a day helping out at a local Special Olympics event. In 2014, more than 40 student-athletes, through the efforts of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, were on hand as volunteers at the Special Olympics track meet hosted by Lanterman Developmental Center and Pomona Valley Special Olympics at Boys Republic in Chino Hills. Events included track, walking, long jump, bocce and other athletic competitions.

The Leopards cheered on the participants during the opening ceremonies, coached the athletes on how to hold and throw a ball, and bonded with the participants over the experience of playing a sport.

Also on hand was La Verne swimming and diving head coach Pat Skehan. “It was great to see so many athletes from so many teams really engaged with the Olympians,” Skehan said. “Everyone seemed to have a great time and no one appreciates a solid athletic performance as much as athletes.”