The student-athletes are proving that being a Razorback is more than just putting on a jersey on game day, but being a part of something much bigger than yourself. So far, the Razorbacks have completed over 1,000 hours of community service, and have set a goal of 7,000 hours for the year.
The community service efforts began in June, as the men's basketball team assisted with the Make-A-Wish foundation. Since then all 19 Arkansas teams have chipped in their time to tally 1,479 hours of giving back to the community. Razorback coaches and student-athletes have found the opportunity is not only is a way to give back to the community, but also is a way for the athletes to bond.
Members of the Razorback women's tennis team and soccer team got together in August to help build a home for a deserving family through Habitat for Humanity.
"For us, it's something we always like to do, to contribute to programs like this," women's tennis head coach Michael Hegarty explained. "They're all valuable, and for us, Habitat for Humanity is as valuable as anything we do. Especially with a young team this year, it's a good bit of team bonding, as well as something we feel really good about. It's funny because there was some hard work being done out there, but there also was a lot of laughing, a lot of fun. It's a great combination of team building and really helping somebody out."
For the student-athletes, getting involved in the community and giving back is not something they have to do, but something they want to do.
"This is something that's incredibly important," said freshman soccer player Laura Fitzgerald about participating with her team at a Habitat for Humanity project. "I've always had a strong sense of giving back, so it's good to come to a team that also has the same core value of helping out our fellow Arkansas' neighbor. It just feels really good to give back to the community that always comes out and supports us."
The Book Hogs: Read to Win program, which helps encourage grade school students to read, connects student-athletes with local elementary school students. The program challenges students to read 360 minutes during a month, and the athletes are able to use their celebrity status to help get children to read. Because of the help from student-athletes, classrooms across the city have been able to reach 100 percent student participation in the program, which has grown immensely in the time that Razorbacks have been contributing.
This year, student-athletes have donated their time to animal shelters and schools, along with initiatives to educate students about the dangers of texting and driving. Student-athletes have also participated with St. Joseph's, Habitat for Humanity and the Make-A-Wish foundation to give back to the community and make an impact in the lives of others.
Last year, Razorback student-athletes surpassed their goal of 5,000 community service hours by contributing over 6,000 hours to help northwest Arkansas. This year, The Razorbacks are on pace to not only reach their goal, but to surpass it, showing they are not only competitive in their respective sports, but in everything they do.
With nearly 1,500 hours of community service in the books, Razorback student-athletes are on pace to meet, and maybe exceed, their goals this year.