Leading the Broncos Athletics Department in grade point average quarter after quarter and running personal bests on a regular basis is nice, but it's not enough for the Bronco men's and women's cross country teams. Following along with Santa Clara's strong community service focus in the athletic department, both teams jumped on the bandwagon in March and had a fantastic time. The teams volunteered three Thursdays in March at Montague Elementary School in Santa Clara. The groups worked with the BAWSI Rollers Program at Montague.
"Our student-athletes had a very positive impact on the kids and I think the kids had an equally positive impact on them. It was awesome to witness," said Bronco cross country assistant coach Chantelle Wilder. "Everyone was terrific. I was impressed with Jenn Nakamura and her work with some of the kids. Amia Nash taught some hula dancing at the end of one of the sessions (click here to see video) -- hilarious!"
SCU: You volunteered three days in March on Thursdays. Did you get more from the experience than the kids?
Jenn: I really got a lot out of working with the kids. They were all so sweet and excited for us to be there and it really meant a lot. It was also cool to see them get so excited about running and other sports!
Chris: It was really great to see how excited the kids were to meet college student-athletes. I enjoyed getting to know them, playing games with them, and working to provide an encouraging environment so they could have fun.
Allie: I only volunteered at the last session, but afterwards, I wished I had been able to help out at all three! I definitely had just as much fun as the kids did. Amia and I ran a station that taught the kids how to do relay handoffs, and we got to run around right along with them. We would count how many seconds it took to get the baton around the circle, and they were so thrilled when they set a new PR.
SCU: What was the best part?
Jenn: The best part was playing the games with the kids because they got really into it. I also liked getting to know all of the kids and I especially liked spending time with one of the kids named Christian.
Chris: The best part was when one of the kids who wasn't very good at one of the games, I went over to him to give him a few tips on what he should do. The next time he threw the bean bags he hit the target everyone and had a huge smile on his face, ran up and gave me a hug and ran back to the line to try again.
Allie: I loved how many kids came up and gave me hugs at the end of the session! They were all so sweet! Another highlight was watching Amia teach the kids how to hula dance. She mentioned that she knew how, and one of the girls kept bugging her until she showed the whole group!
SCU: Does it spark your interest in doing more community service?
Jenn: Yes, I definitely would be interested in doing more activities like this in the future. I thought it was great.
Chris: It does spark interest in doing more. The kids are great and really nice. You really get a feeling of wanting to help guide them when they don't have a huge disadvantage but it's enough to want to help.
Allie: I'd definitely like to volunteer with them again. I really liked that all the activities were active and fun, and that we got to teach them about our sport in the process. The kids were so enthusiastic and easy to work with. I could tell that this was something they looked forward to each week.
SCU: Final thoughts as you walked away that last day?
Jenn: I was thinking about how I was sad we were done and that I was going to miss the kids.
Chris: I went into it not knowing what to expect and I walked out of it thinking it was a lot of fun. I enjoyed meeting the kids and teachers. They always had a smile on their faces and it really helps put things in perspective
Allie: I volunteered over spring break, so something I kept thinking was, "What a great way to spend my free time!" When I otherwise might have been sleeping or sitting around being bored, instead, I got to have a lot of fun with really sweet kids. It was a great way to spend my morning!
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