Story by Austin Cannon
This year, Drake University’s student-athletes are volunteering in a program called “Seeds for Success,” where they visit local middle schools and address students on goal setting and character building.
“When I went it was pretty amazing, the kids were actually listening to us and they seemed to really enjoy talking with us,” said Ashley Beall, a first-year student on Drake’s rowing team. “It was just great knowing that I was making a positive influence on them.”
“Seeds for Success” originated with the athletic department’s partnership with Character Counts in Iowa, an organization that promotes character growth in Iowa schools, families, workplaces and communities. The organization also partners with two national organizations, the Josephson Institute and the Institute of Excellence and Ethics.
Cara Lutes, a sophomore women’s basketball player, is one of the student-athletes who participates in the program.
“Different student-athletes have developed stories about integrity development, about improvement development and just confidence in one another,” Lutes said. “We go into middle schools and share those stories.”
Athletes will visit middle schools in Waukee and Johnston in the coming months. At the schools, Drake’s athletes address classrooms of students, telling their stories.
The student-athletes do more than just walk into the schools and talk. There is preparation involved.
“We’ve had sessions where we praise and polish one another’s speeches and stories so I feel well prepared,” said Lutes.
An education major, Lutes wants to work as a middle school teacher and she was very eager to join the program.
“I just kind of heard about it and it really sparked my interest because I really enjoy kids and I know that’s a really pivotal time of your life … ”
Bri Varela, also a first-year member of the women’s rowing team, hopes to make an impact.
“(It’s great) being able to interact with the children and knowing that you may have made a difference in their lives.”
The volunteer student-athletes vary greatly, both in the sports they play and in their majors. Together, they will come together on dates later this spring to deliver their messages. “
“It’s just a little thing we can do for the community,” Lutes said.