PERU – One of the five core values of the NAIA’s Champions of Character program is servant leadership. The main pretense is to “serve the common good” and to put the leadership into action.
This past academic year, the Peru State Bobcat student-athletes and staff members compiled nearly 2,900 hours of documented community service. The recorded total was 2,889 hours. Athletic department officials believe the number is considerably higher, but do have documentation showing the stated amount.
The number of hours, as well as, the variety of service activities varied per sport. The numbers documented by sport is as follows: Football – 1,253 hours, Volleyball – 69.5 hours, Cross Country – 358.75 hours, Golf – 71 hours, Men’s Basketball – 195, Women’s Basketball – 82.5, Softball – 172, Baseball – 219, and Cheer – 71.5. In addition, the Student Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC) and staff added over 396 hours.
The cross country team, led by Coach Katy Billings and senior SAAC member Samantha Carlson (Cozad) averaged over 30 hours per student-athlete over the past year. Carlson was a real proponent of community service and when a request came up to assist with something, Carlson and her teammates stepped up.
The football team was the other team to average more than ten hours per student-athlete during the 17-18 year.
Most of the teams participated at least one time or another in the College’s Feeding 44 program while several teams also assisted with Food Bank Back-Pack program in Auburn. In addition, almost all of the teams participated in the College’s collaborative effort with the City of Peru in the annual city-wide clean-up which takes place one week prior to the College’s commencement ceremonies. All but one of the teams participated in the College’s Glow Walk last October.
SAAC members assisted with the Nemaha County Gives Back effort last December, as well as, helping with the Walk A Mile in Her Shoes event in April. Following the walk, SAAC hosted a panel to discuss sexual assault and how to prevent it on campus.
Other activities included the volleyball team assisting with gift wrapping at Long’s Creek Assisted Living Center in Auburn; members of the cross country team helped with different running events and had several members who volunteered to coach youth basketball teams in Auburn; softball team members continued their annual help with the Auburn Holiday Opening while helping decorate cookies or coloring with young children while they awaited Santa’s arrival; and a number of teams also assisted with both Auburn’s and Peru’s different Halloween events.
Samantha Carlson (Cozad) – a member of the cross country team, Meg Grose (Peoria, Ariz.) – a member of the volleyball team, and Gunnar Orcutt (Omaha) – a member of the football team all had key roles as they were on SAAC’s Community Service Committee, along with basketball player Noah Vasa (Nebraska City) and Erin Snyder (Omaha) of the softball team.
Carlson, who recently graduated, noted, “While helping with numerous service projects this past year, I believe it has helped not only the cross country team, but most all of the student-athletes, in terms of developing a sense of community.”
Orcutt, another graduate who served as SAAC’s vice chairman last year, added, “Student-athletes need to set a good example and lead by doing. Having worked on several of the projects this year, I do believe we did start to build a better sense of community, not just among the student-athletes, but within the city of Peru and even in Auburn as well.”
Spencer Vogt, Assistant Professor of Education, serves as one of SAAC’s co-advisers and was instrumental in working with SAAC and its student-athletes in its community service efforts. SAAC’s other co-adviser, Ted L. Harshbarger, helped lead many efforts and compiles all of the information on all of the various community service activities.