Becoming Champions in the Community
While the Arkansas State football team put in countless hours this summer in preparation for the upcoming season, team members were not just on the fields, in campus classrooms or in the many student-athlete enhancement areas comprising Centennial Bank Athletics Operations Center. The Red Wolves have been extremely active in community service projects as part of their new “Champions in the Community” program established this past spring by head coach Butch Jones and his A-State coaching and support staff.
Like Jones’ “4th and 1” program, the “Champions in the Community” initiative provides an opportunity for student-athletes to gain rewarding growth as individuals in A-State’s football program. At the same time, it goes hand-in-hand with Jones’ conviction that the football program and community are inherently linked together as integral parts necessary to develop a winning culture.
The Red Wolves community-service efforts are backing up something Jones has been vocal about since his arrival in Northeast Arkansas – the support the football program and community provide each other are extremely important, so giving back is going to be a priority for A-State’s football program.
“I’m proud of the way our players and the community have both embraced this outreach, service and involvement,” said Jones. “We’re doing things weekly in Jonesboro and the surrounding areas, so we’re excited our players are getting out there and embedding themselves in our community.”
Since the program’s formation, the Red Wolves have been involved with community-service projects with people of all ages, have visited local schools and senior citizens and have been working with organizations such as Special Olympics.
A-State student-athletes have visited the A-State Child Development and Research Center to sanitize toys, read and spend time on the playground with children and assist with landscaping. They have also visited Jonesboro Public Schools’ Visual and Performing Arts Magnet School to read to the kids and participate in “Recess with the Red Wolves.”
Players spent time at University Heights Elementary during parent drop-off to visit with students as they entered the school, and they provided a tour of the A-State football facilities for students from the Westside School District. Including participating in two Special Olympics track meets at Valley View, the Red Wolves have spent time with multiple school districts in the area. They also visited Blessed Sacrament Catholic School as part of a community service event.
The Red Wolves enjoyed an ice cream social with residents of South Wind Heights, a senior living community. They also took part in a food drive for The Food Bank of Northeast Arkansas in April.
While the football program has taken part in additional community-service projects and plans to continue visiting the same locations, the Red Wolves are working to expand their outreach in the future with communication already taking place for opportunities to work with the food pantry on the A-State campus, Kids Unlimited Learning Academy and Habitat for Humanity, among others.
To inquire about additional community-service projects with the Arkansas State football team, contact Robert Garth, director of player welfare and development, at (870) 972-2092 or firstname.lastname@example.org.