Lehigh Athletics reached out to the Lehigh Valley community on Tuesday afternoon when several student-athletes hosted approximately 75 local youth from the Bethlehem Boys and Girls Club at Lehigh’s Grace Hall.
The student-athletes talked about several different issues including sportsmanship, teamwork, competitiveness, and fair play. After the discussion, the athletes setup an obstacle course and divided the children into teams. During the competition, the athletes stressed the things they talked about earlier. After the competition, the student-athletes shared pizza and stories with the youngsters.
"There is only one reason why I participate in this sort of thing: it’s fun!" said softball player Shannon Long. "I love kids and being able to put a smile on their face and on mine is all the reward in the world."
Tuesday’s events were part of an ongoing program at Lehigh called the C.O.A.C.H. program (Community Outreach by Athletes who Care about Helping). On a regular basis, Lehigh student-athletes visit the Boys and Girls Club to help children with their homework, speak about real world issues, and use motivating factors to help the kids grow as individuals.
"The COACH program is a great program for our kids," said Scott Perry, program director for the Southside unit of the Bethlehem Boys and Girls Club. "Our kids look forward to meeting and interacting with the student-athletes each time they come to visit. Usually they come to our place but we wanted to change pace a little bit, so we came up here to Grace Hall."
"This is a perfect way for us as student-athletes to connect with the community and the children who live in Bethlehem," said lacrosse player Mike Rabinovitz. "We see these kids every day when we walk to class and pass by Broughal Middle School and walk to other places in Bethlehem. This is a way for us to show them that we are ordinary people that are part of the community. They look up to us as because we are athletes. If we can show them that we are just normal people living a dream, then it provides them with hope that they can live that same dream."
"The community supports us every time we step on the court," said basketball player Matt Logie. "This is a way for us to give back to them for supporting us. It gives the children a chance to connect with us on a personal level. They get a chance to get up close and interact with us instead of just watching us play."