POPE VALLEY, Calif.-Pacific Union Athletics is dedicated to developing not only exceptional athletes, but men and women of great character. Part of this initiative was shown recently as the Pioneers women's volleyball team took their talents to the surrounding community.
The volleyball team travelled to Pope Valley, Calif., and spent their time helping an elderly gentleman with the task of repairing and remodeling a cabin. As the players worked alongside the gentleman, washing, cleaning, and sanding the cabin, they expressed excitement at the opportunity to help members of the community, as well as grow closer as a team. For junior Kristen Murray (JR/Simi Valley , CA), the opportunity to connect with a member of the community was a fulfilling experience.
"Sometimes just doing physical work itself is fulfilling, but being able to get to know the background of someone is even better," Murray said. "You can make a connection, and then helping means so much more to not only you, but them as well."
Coach Paul Castillo saw the trip as a chance to reach out and connect to the community, and to display the character of the team. He noted, "I feel that as much as the students help, they also grow themselves."
Castillo and the entire Pioneers Athletics Department hold the development of character as a core value. Service events like these are examples of why PUC has earned awards for the NAIA Champions of Character program.
Castillo explained that "being part of the NAIA and Champions of Character, we want to be a positive influence on our school and the community around us."
For Senior Lauren Purdom (SR/Murrieta, CA), it is important for athletes to lead by example and help serve the community.
"A lot of people think we just play and go on with our lives, but that's the thing we ALSO have lives... I think it's good for us to be leaders in the community because it not only shows we care, but it sets a standard/example for others looking to do things to give back or volunteer in their spare time," she said.
The volleyball team's efforts not only aided a member of the community, but also helped the team in practical ways as the new season progresses. The players agreed that it is important to make an impact on the community, as members of the community help support the team, and community outreach is an important way of giving back. This outreach also helped with team cohesion.
From Murray's perspective, teamwork on the court work can be reflected by teamwork in the community.
"For many team sports you need to work together and help each other out, whether it's on the court or not and the community is the same way," she said. "Reaching out to the community shows how working together and setting a goal can bring people together."
Purdom echoed this sentiment, stating that "activities like these strengthen our team spirit and cohesion for the better. While doing these activities we bond more and learn more about each other, which ultimately brings us closer as teammates and also builds our friendships on and off the court."
Castillo was happy with the opportunity to leave an impact on the community, and he felt that his players enjoyed the experience.
"The team was happy to help. Yes it was hard, hot, and there were lots of bugs, but they got the job done."