FAYETTEVILLE – More than 30 Razorback student-athletes volunteered their time to work with area youth on Monday as part of a day of service in commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Members of the men’s basketball, women’s basketball, soccer and volleyball teams spent two hours at the HPER building on campus playing alongside and teaching kids a variety of skills that can be applied in sports and in life away from athletics. Freshman women’s basketball student-athlete Jhasmin Bowen addressed the group about the importance of education, dreaming big and working hard.
“It is great to see our student-athletes volunteering their time to make a meaningful impact on the lives of young people,” Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Jeff Long said. “While community service is something our student-athletes participate in throughout the year, it is especially appropriate on a day where we celebrate the tremendous legacy of Dr. King. He challenged us all to serve our fellow man and make a difference in the lives of others. Part of our mission in intercollegiate athletics is to teach our student-athletes their responsibility and how they can contribute to their communities. I am proud of how Razorback student-athletes have embraced that responsibility and are making a difference throughout our state.”
The youth activity was a sponsored by Razorback Athletics, the University of Arkansas Intramural Sports program and the Northwest Arkansas MLK Planning Committee. The more than 60 kids, ranging from elementary school to high school age, participating in the activities were part of the Northwest Arkansas chapter of the Dream Keepers organization.
“This is what it is all about,” John L. Colbert, Chairman of Dream Keepers, says. “It is not all about shooting the basketball or hitting the soccer ball, it is about giving back and being a positive role model for others.”
Local youth weren’t the only ones to benefit from the day of fun and fellowship. For Razorback student-athletes getting to spend some time with kids serve as a reminder of how much the investment of others has played a role in their success.
“It means a lot, because I was in that same position growing up idolizing the Hogs,” men’s basketball student-athlete Kikko Haydar says. “It is nice to see them get so excited when they see us. We get excited too.”
The youth activity was just one of the ways Razorback student-athletes, coaches and staff commemorated the holiday and the memory of Dr. King. Several athletic department staff members joined Long to take part in the annual MLK Day March from Dickson Street to the Arkansas Student Union. Student-athletes from various sports also joined athletic department administrators at the 16th annual Recommitment Banquet at the Fayetteville Town Center.