CWU athletes give back to community

Six CWU volleyball players helps assist with rake the dirt for one of their service projects.

Six CWU volleyball players helps assist with rake the dirt for one of their service projects.

Courtesy of Sabrina Wheelhouse

Courtesy of Sabrina Wheelhouse

Six CWU volleyball players helps assist with rake the dirt for one of their service projects.

Alanna Inzunza, Staff Reporter

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Community service is an important part for student-athletes.

The CWU Athletics Department requires student-athletes to take time out of their schedules to serve the local community. For many of these players and teams, the community service they do is more than that. They take time and energy from their schedules because they want to make their community a better place.

Men’s rugby and women’s volleyball are two of the teams that log in the most community service hours. To them, community service is about more than just logging hours, they care about making the time to lend a helping hand, according to their coaches.

“For us it’s about embodying one of [our] core values brotherhood, which is defined as ‘We care about someone else more than ourselves,’” men’s rugby head coach Todd Thornley said. “Helping the community is a great way in walking the walk and demonstrating this.”

Throughout the year, men’s rugby is involved in events with the Center of Leadership and Engagement (CLCE) on campus. They work with the river clean-up, tree plantings and storm drain stenciling.

“Anything that we feel like we can make a significant difference [with] we will put our hands up and do the job,” Thornley said. “I am incredibly proud of our student-athlete’s attitude and enthusiasm in giving back to the community.”

The women’s volleyball team helps with two major organizations, Habitat for Humanity and food banks. They’ve been working with smaller events as the year is coming to an end.

They recently went to Lincoln Elementary School to help with their sports day. While doing community service they’ve been able to see the impact their help has had on people.

“We’ve helped build parts of a house the last couple years and this year we’ve continued on the same house and actually worked on the yard for the family,” head coach Mario Andaya said. “It’s been a pretty meaningful experience for us.”

Putting in the time isn’t a competition for student-athletes. Each team works together as one in order to serve a greater purpose.

“It’s been a collective effort from all 33 student-athletes, everyone has stepped up and served when they have needed to,” Thornley said. “I am really proud of every individual in this program.”

The volleyball team has been logging in the hours, without even realizing they’re one of the teams that serves the community the most.

“We made it a point this year that we weren’t going to try to get the most hours we just wanted to latch onto a couple causes,” Andaya said. “It turns out they’ve just been putting in the time with those and it’s been very rewarding.”

Andaya understands that sometimes someone would rather be outside and enjoying the beautiful weather, but he also sees the effect their service has on the families. He sees his players being very satisfied once they see the impact they are making. He’s noticed his team organize themselves in order to put in the time in their community.

“We want to be part of something bigger than ourselves and it just can’t be about volleyball. It can’t just be about the team,” Andaya said. “It has to be about serving and one of our core values in our department is service and we take that to heart in the volleyball program.”

Thornley sees community service as a chance to thank the community for the foundation they have given them, including getting a great education and having a great experience as student-athletes. Community service has become a way to show CWU and the Ellensburg community the appreciation they have for them.

“That feeling of giving back—nothing is better in life than that,” Thornley said.

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CWU athletes give back to community