By KIM PERNICE
Ten ponytails a year.
That’s what head coach of the men’s basketball team, Rod Wood, hopes to achieve each year during the men’s and women’s basketball teams annual Locks of Love fundraiser.
In addition to the basketball teams, more and more University of Mary Washington sports teams participate in fundraising events each year.
Athletic Director Edward Hegmann is thrilled that UMW sports teams are getting more involved.
“It means that the athletes and coaches care a great deal about less fortunate individuals and that they are willing to give their own time and effort to make life more enjoyable for these folks,” Hegmann said in an e-mail interview.
As a whole, UMW athletics participates in two major charity events each year. At Thanksgiving, all teams donate non-perishable items for donation to the Fredericksburg Food Bank.
At Christmas-time, each team adopts a less fortunate family and collects money from team members to buy Christmas gifts for that family’s children.
During the 2007-2008 seasons, Women’s and Men’s Basketball, Women’s Volleyball, Rowing, and Women’s Soccer all selected specific charities for which they decided to raise awareness and support.
Since 2006, the men’s basketball team, with the support of the women’s basketball team, sponsored Locks of Love, a public non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children under age 18 suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis.
According to Wood, the Locks of Love events have averaged about $700 and 10 ponytails each year.
This season, the basketball teams started a new fundraiser for the Erin Peterson Fund, named for a victim of the tragedy at Virginia Tech last spring. The fund awards two scholarships each year to deserving Westfield high school seniors, Peterson’s alma mater.
Juniors Matt Hale and Kaitie Clarkin, both members of the basketball teams, went to high school with Peterson and wanted to give back to their community at home.
“It always feels good when you are able to give back to any type of charity, but considering this one was actually a fellow friend and classmate of mine it was very special,” Hale said in an e-mail interview.
Women’s basketball head coach Deena Applebury says the teams raised almost $1500 this year, and she hopes that supporting the Erin Peterson Fund will become an annual event.
In addition to the basketball team’s charities, both the women’s volleyball and women’s soccer teams have chosen charities to raise support and awareness for cancer research.
In the 2007 season, the women’s volleyball team chose to support breast cancer research with their Ace for a Cure campaign. The team raised $3238 for local and national breast cancer research with the season-long event.
For every “ace” or “block” the team earned throughout the season, friends and family of the team donated to their charity.
Junior Erika Luera hopes the team continues to raise money for breast cancer research annually and was excited her team got involved with a charity.
“I thought it was awesome to know that we don’t just play volleyball for UMW,” she said, “but that we also represent this school by donating to charities.”
The women’s soccer team has decided to raise money for the American Cancer Society this spring as they go “Cleats Up on Cancer.”
14 team members, including head coach Corey Hewson, are participating in the Marine Corps Historic Half Marathon in Fredericksburg this May. The team set up their event with the American Cancer Society and each runner is raising money for the cause. They set an overall goal of $5000 but they hope to surpass that by May, according to Hewson.
Hewson hopes to get his team involved with two or three projects per year that will benefit all different areas of our community.
“Being involved with charitable events is more than simply raising money for a cause or supporting an organization,” Hewson said.
“Too many times we focus our charity around the holidays or to one specific group of people when in fact there are many groups and individuals that could benefit from donated time to financial support all year long.”
It the other end of the spectrum, the rowing teams will be participating in Row for Humanity for the fourth time this year. Row for Humanity is a nation-wide charity that donates to Habitat for Humanity.
Participants of Row for Humanity row on an ergometer, an indoor rowing machine, for a 12-hour period.
The event at UMW took place on Feb. 20. The crew teams set a goal to row 700,000 meters and raise $7000.
According to Head Coach Philip Schmehl, over the past three years the teams raised $17,959 dollars.
Schmehl learned about Row for Humanity from the women’s rowing coach at William Smith College in New York and thought it was a great organization to get involved with.
“I decided to include UMW rowing because in light of disasters like Hurricane Katrina and the tsunami it is a great way for the team to support a great organization,” said Schmehl.