The ability to compete in any athletic event takes a great deal of hard work. Granted, there are some individuals who are blessed with talent and ability, but even they can work to improve their skills.
The same is true about life; some individuals seem to have the ability to always land on their feet, while other may stumble and need a helping hand from time to time.
The members of the State Fair Community College Men’s and Women’s Basketball Teams are devoting their time and efforts in both areas.
“I think there is a huge misconception out there that if you are a college athlete things just come easy to you,” SFCC Men’s Basketball Head Coach Kevin Thomas said. “What a lot of people don’t understand is that our athletes have been given an incredible opportunity to play for us, but with that opportunity comes responsibility as well.
“One of those responsibilities is giving back to the community for the support they have shown our programs,” Thomas said. “For the past month, we have been out in the community participating in several service projects.”
The program, “SFCC Roadrunners Leaving our Tracks in Sedalia,” began last May and was implemented this September.
Student athletes from the college took part in participating in the Alzheimer’s Walk, and have been volunteers at the Boys & Girls Clubs of West Central Missouri, The Figure Eight Scramble with the Lion’s Club, the Open Door Service Center Food Pantry and have worked at a Habitat for Humanity House project.
“What we have wanted to do for a very long time is start to give back to the college and the community as a whole,” Athletic Director Darren Pannier said. “They have been so generous to us and our athletes and this is a way for us to pay back some of that support.
“What a lot of people may not realize is that our athletes come from all walks of life and that for many of them coming to a town like Sedalia is completely different,” Pannier added. “Sedalia is not their home and so it is a culture adjustment in many cases.”
“For some of our kids, they may have struggled academically in high school and basketball is an opportunity for them,” Thomas said. “The worst thing that can happen for them is if they are given an opportunity to play college ball and they throw it away.
“For them to get a degree is huge and so we are giving them every opportunity to do that,” he added.
“As part of the program, the college has also focused on character building activities,” Women’s Head Coach Kevin Bucher said in a press release.
A series of speakers have discussed with the athletes the role and responsibility they each have while representing the college and later in life.
Some of the speakers included Billy Foster, pastor at Bethel Family Church, who spoke to the students about making good decisions and striving for goals.
Deputy David Hockaday of the Pettis County Sheriff’s Office and Detective Neva Overstreet with the Sedalia Police Department discussed how poor decisions could make a lasting impact on a person’s life.
Laurie Ward, a Sedalia attorney, spoke to the athletes about the importance of building relationships that have a lasting impact on the students both in college and after graduation.
“All of the speakers I think made an impact on the players,” Thomas said. “When you hear a speaker like Johnny Williams, who played at Independence Community College, and then went on to play at Pitt State.
“He made some poor choices and wound up in jail for 19 years all because of some poor decisions,” Thomas added. “He had such a promising career and he threw it all away.”
Thomas said Williams’ message is one that can make an impact on today’s athletes.
“We want our athletes to succeed,” Thomas said. “In some respects we feel we have to take care of them to help them in their journey.
“The service projects we have done, and will continue to do, are our way to have the players give back while helping others.”
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484