Service enriches RC athletic experience

Members of the women's lacrosse team cheer at a Special Olympics basketball tournament.

Members of the women's lacrosse team cheer at a Special Olympics basketball tournament.

For many student athletes, community service has long been a way of life.


As one of the Four Pillars of Roanoke College, the responsibility to serve others historically has been part of the College ethos. Students are encouraged to give back - through volunteer work, through charitable efforts and through humanitarian acts.

But many students, athletes included, have arrived on campus with no need for instruction or further encouragement. For them, service already is a way of life.

Maroons men's soccer captain Dionys Beck '15 delighted in pitching in with teammates from the powerhouse Blacksburg High School program to help Special Olympics. Lauren Hurley '15, who anchors the defensive back line in field hockey, grew up joining in one good deed after another with members of her Pennsylvania church. Men's lacrosse player Dylan Torey '15 came from a long tradition of service in the worldwide lacrosse community. Most every team he has ever been part of volunteered for something.

"There are so many opportunities out there to help other people," Beck said. "If you can do that, you're making yourself happy as well. It's good for everybody involved."

The men's soccer team, Beck included, called in members of its extensive alumni network to help with a March fundraiser on behalf of Micah's Backpack, a child hunger-fighting effort conducted with local schools. Soccer players participated in a Goal-A-Thon in which sponsorships were secured as team members attempted to score 100 goals in a series of five-on-five contests on abbreviated fields.

Ryan Pflugrad, head men's soccer coach, said it took players 1 hour and 46 minutes. The event raised more than $2,500.

Not only did the event benefit a worthy cause, "it was a lot of fun," Pflugrad said.

This spring, Torey, a junior lacrosse goalkeeper, initiated a project with teammates and others to donate lacrosse equipment to be included in a silent auction benefiting a scholarship in memory of Adam Pomper. A member of Loyola University's championship lacrosse team, Pomper was a friend of Torey's who died in 2012. His father, Bruce Pomper '80, played for Roanoke's 1978 national championship lacrosse team.

The donation drive is called "A Bag for Adam," a larger effort among a number of lacrosse teams to raise money to fund a scholarship at St. Anthony's High School on Long Island, N.Y. in the name of Adam Pomper, who was an alumnus of the school.

"We're getting various teams to donate a bag of their apparel - helmets, gloves, sticks," Torey said.

Hurley was among a group of Roanoke College student athletes who organized a Christmas toy drive last year. Toys were collected at basketball games and later donated to children at area hospitals.

"I've always been involved in community service," Hurley said. "I just like helping those who are less fortunate than I am. It makes me a lot more grateful for the things I do have."

Lauren Silva, an assistant field hockey coach, is co-chair of Roanoke College's Student Athlete Advisory Committee, along with Women's Basketball Coach Susan Dunagan. Community service projects are part of what SAAC does.

One example is a volunteer cheer event for a local Special Olympics' basketball tournament hosted by Roanoke at the Bast Center. Several teams - including men's and women's lacrosse, and men's and women's soccer - showed up this year to cheer on the Special Olympians.

Silva organized various RC teams to commit to a time slot in which members could come and root like crazy for the competing athletes. Other Maroons athletes helped and cheered at similar events at additional venues.

"Coach Silva has done a great job making more of the athletic teams a part of community service," Hurley said.

- Ray Cox


About the Author

This story originally appeared in the Roanoke College Magazine. It's produced twice each year with news and features about Roanoke alumni, students and faculty. View more magazine stories.