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Southern Athletic Association Volunteers at Young Athletes New Year Challenge

Student-athletes teach Young Athletes new sports skills

The Young Athletes New Year Challenge recently took place at D1 Training in Cool Springs. Athletes ranging from ages 3 to 11 participated in training activities through football, soccer and baseball. Touchdown and goal celebrations were roaring before ending the event with an intense tug-of-war.

Student-athletes from the Southern Athletic Association visited D1 Training to volunteer with this event as a part of their Student-Athlete Advisory Committee Leadership Retreat over the weekend. Student-athletes from Sewanee: The University of the South, Hendrix College, Birmingham-Southern College, Rhodes College and Berry College partnered up with young athletes for the day.

“We’ve all been playing sports for so long and we’ve trained so hard,” said Peyton Erck of Sewanee. “I think that, with the knowledge and ability that we have luckily been given, it's really amazing to give back and make that impact in [young athletes’] lives.”

Peyton Erck, a senior on the men’s tennis team at Sewanee, connected with 8-year-old Tyrice through the event. The pair completed the three exercise groups with excitement, with Erck encouraging Tyrice each step of the way.

“Every time [Tyrice] made a goal he would come and give me a huge high-five,” Erck said. “It's such an amazing experience to be able to see the light that goes through these kids' eyes every time they kick a ball or make a goal.”

LaDew with Young Athlete Tre
LaDew with Young Athlete Tre

Stacey LaDew, the commissioner of the Southern Athletic Association, is passionate about presenting her student-athletes with hands-on experiences and promoting leadership skills to make a difference in the local community.

“One of our student-athletes asked me, ‘why is this leadership?’ and its leadership through doing,” said LaDew. “You get to gain hands-on experience with Special Olympics athletes who, I think, love and enjoy interacting with student-athletes.”

LaDew and seven Southern Athletic Association student-athletes brought the energy to Young Athletes New Year Challenge, from cheering young athletes on to teaching them new skills in the three focused sports.

“I'm sure that I could ask any one of those student-athletes and they would complain about things like the practice they just had or the injury they just went through or their season, but you get them in this environment and a lot of that melts away,” LaDew said. “It’s just a really rewarding experience.”

Thank you to the Southern Athletic Association and D1 Training for being a part of Young Athletes New Year Challenge! To learn more about getting involved, click here.

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