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Athletes give back

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For Drake athletics, championships and charity go hand-in-hand.

“Any way we can help and give back and show support is really nice,” said Student-Athlete Advisory Committee President Gabby Demos, a senior member of the women’s tennis squad. “That’s really what we’re trying to achieve. I feel like each year we’re doing more and more, which is exciting.”

By increasing outreach, Drake athletes’ services are being requested more and more in Des Moines.

“A lot of the kids in the community just want to meet the athletes,” Demos said. “The basketball teams are in pretty high demand, and they really like the football guys, too. We’re just trying to focus on more interaction every year, and I think it’s getting better.”

Drake athletics’ continued outreach goals have not gone unnoticed in the community. They have partnered with organizations including Soles for Souls, Character Counts in Iowa, Boys and Girls Clubs and the Belize Dance Marathon.

Giving back benefits Drake athletes and the Des Moines community alike, said Athletic Director Sandy Hatfield Clubb.

“It’s really good for our students and our staff to engage in volunteer activities and be giving of their time and talents because it’s good for your heart and soul,” Hatfield Clubb said. “It helps you learn to grow, and it teaches you to serve your community, which, I think, is our job as human beings on this earth, to help make the world a better place.”

The time and effort that the department is putting in to giving back to the community is growing more and more each year.

“The focus hasn’t changed, but the energy of it, the momentum of it has increased, and I think that’s because people recognize that we’re doing a lot of those things,” Hatfield Clubb said.

Drake athletics’ outreach includes the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee’s annual student-athlete talent show. Every spring, Drake’s 16 teams each perform for their fellow athletes and student and faculty fans. This spring, Soles for Souls was also sitting in the auditorium.

Empty cardboard bins welcomed shoe donations before and after the April 5 talent show.

Outreach efforts aren’t limited to Drake’s spring semester. Drake athletes engaged local youth in some competitive but fun play last semester at the Bell Center. After playing various sports all morning, tying fleece blankets occupied the afternoon. SAAC sent the finished blankets to local homeless shelters housing youth.

Community programs that Drake football is involved in encompass the entire academic year. Players travel to local schools every Friday to read to elementary students.

Besides volunteering, Drake athletes are committed to increasing awareness through competition.

Through volleyball’s Dig Pink, basketball’s Hoops 4 Hope and soccer’s Kick Cancer, the athletics department informs in a fan-friendly way.

Men’s soccer even scheduled a “green out” to support environmental awareness. The first 250 fans to the game received a free “Drake Soccer Goes Green” T-shirt.

“Our teams come up with some creative ideas to bring awareness to different efforts for positive social change,” Hatfield Clubb said.

For Drake athletics, winning games, matches and races is rewarding, but Hatfield Clubb said that winning smiles, hugs and thanks from the Des Moines community is the athletics department’s ultimate reward.

“We’re here for a social good,” Hatfield Clubb said. “We’re here to educate our community and to bring young, talented people into our workforce, into the community. Our purpose is social good as an educational institution, and this creates even stronger arms and legs relative to advancing the social good of our work in the community.”

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