Limestone MLax Team Making an Impact

GAFFNEY, S.C. Coming off a regular season and tournament championship as well as a trip to the 2012 national championship game, Limestone has been spending its off-season working out, training, conditioning and volunteering. Partnering with the Cherokee County Boys & Girls Club, the student-athletes have been contributing about 70 hours of service each week since August.

Visiting both B.D. Lee Elementary School and the local branch of the Boys & Girls Club each Wednesday, the team breaks into two groups to work in hour-long shifts.

"The student-athletes work with the youngsters on their homework and act as mentors for them," says head men's lacrosse coach J.B. Clarke. "Our players have been forging nice relationships with the young people and look forward to each Wednesday."

Seeking to provide a safe environment for children to learn and play, the Boys & Girls Club offers services and programs to encourage development, growth and influence. Through sports and recreation, leadership programs, health skills and arts programs, the club offers well-rounded opportunities for children to engage in positive behaviors.

Senior men's lacrosse player Zach Cummings (Crownesville, Md.) says the experience for him and his teammates has been invaluable.

"There is no better feeling than walking into a classroom of 4th graders and once they see you they have a huge smile on their face and they come running at you all at once," says Cummings. "They give me a huge hug and say, 'We missed you Mr. Zach!'"

Vance Hammond, Area Director for Boys & Girls Clubs of the Upstate, echoes that enthusiasm, noting that the kids look forward to Wednesdays because they know they get to see the lacrosse team.

"They've just jumped right into the mix," says Hammond. "They've all been perfect gentlemen, fantastic to have in the club. It's been such a blessing."

Hammond also appreciates the added bonus of having extra people around to help out with the kids. He points out that the team's presence has allowed the club to break into smaller groups, resulting in more one-on-one time for the children. Another bonus? The children are learning about different nationalities and cultures from interacting with the team.

"It's amazing the diversity of the athletic program at Limestone College," says Hammond. "Kids from Australia, kids from Canada, kids from England ... these are places that our children read about, but to have someone they actually know from there is really neat for them. It really closes the gap."

It's safe to say this experience has been beneficial to everyone involved. Cummings credits the volunteer work for strengthening the team.

"Doing this has brought us all closer together and has made us much stronger as a unit," he says.

And their coach couldn't be prouder. "We asked our players to make a difference in a young person's life," says coach Clarke. "From all accounts, they have done a wonderful job!"


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