SPECIAL FEATURE (Nov. 4, 2013) -- The Our Lady of the Lake University (OLLU) softball team prides itself on being a part of the NAIA Champions of Character program. As a member of the NAIA Champions of Character, the softball team must follow a set of core values. These five core values include: integrity, respect, responsibility, servant leadership and sportsmanship. Not only are these core values instilled in athletes to practice during competition, but they are lifelong lessons that should be used in all aspects of their lives including community service. So, during the off season, aside from practicing and conditioning, as well as playing some scrimmage tournaments, the women have dedicated their time and energy to the community in a variety of ways.
One of their volunteer community endeavors took place on Sept. 28, 2013, when the team spent its entire Saturday morning in sneakers and not in cleats at the San Antonio Food Bank. Here, the Saints helped separate food products into boxes that will be delivered to designated drop-off points throughout the city. Those in need are given the opportunity to gather the food and necessities that they otherwise could not afford to purchase. This is the fourth year the Saints have selected the food bank as their community service project.
Several seniors were asked how they felt about volunteering at the food bank. Ashley Perez, a San Antonio native who joined the team in tge 2011-2012 season, said, "I enjoy volunteering at the food bank because I know what I was doing was for a good cause and I was also helping those who are less fortunate."
Volunteering about four hours of their time seems like a lot, but this is about the same amount of time that these athletes spend in practice per day. "It made me feel good that we are here as a group, gathering food for people who are not fortunate enough to have a meal everyday like us," senior Stephanie Gutierrez said.
Saints Head Coach James Kling first became aware of the San Antonio Food Bank and their processes when he was in graduate school and had to write a paper on them. He chose the organization because of its close proximity to the campus and because it is nonprofit.
The team also participated in a benefit run for a pediatric cancer survivor named Gaby. The team will also be volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House later this year.
The Saints will be back in their spikes and on the red dirt for the start of their regular season in February. The Saints will start out with a scrimmage double header against Coastal Bend College on Feb. 8 at home. On Feb. 11, the Saints will travel to Houston to play Texas Southern University. OLLU will begin its conference schedule on March 17 against Langston University.