SUNY Oneonta student athletes, representing men’s and women’s soccer, women’s and men’s lacrosse, volleyball, men’s and women’s tennis, softball and field hockey hosted over 120 children ages 5-11 for the annual “Kids in Sports Day”. The numbers this year were the highest ever for the event, as SUNY Oneonta Athletics continues to synergize with the surrounding communities. The event took place on Saturday, January 28th in the Dewar Arena of the Alumni Field House and the Chase Physical Education Building from 10:00 a.m. to 2:15 p.m.
SUNY Oneonta has been hosting this event for 18 years now and it continues to be one of the highlight community service occasions for the athletics department. “Serving the community is a year-round athletic department commitment and I am proud that our coaches and student athletes give time enthusiastically to serve children during our annual “kids in sports day”. We get as much as we give and always look forward to the event,” said Athletics Director Tracey Ranieri.
The student athletes of SUNY Oneonta enjoy every opportunity to mentor young, aspiring athletes. The typically chilly Oneonta weather on the 28th promoted indoor athletic activity and enthusiasm as the children were exposed to so many sports that they can eventually participate in when the weather turns nice in the spring. The record turnout and the smiles on so many children’s faces as they participated in the activities was joyful for the not only the kids but also for the parents, coaches and student athletes alike. The Red Dragon student athletes collectively were able to give back in the same way that someone gave of their time to help them when they were younger.
Assistant women’s lacrosse coach Allyson Baribault said, “This was my first experience with the Kids in Sports Day here at Oneonta and what a great opportunity to expose the youngsters to women’s lacrosse right here in the local community for the very first time.”
Head women’s soccer coach Liz McGrail added, “It’s nice to see the event grow every year and our team members are rewarded helping others and they seem to have as much fun as the children.” Head field hockey coach Kelly Kingsbury echoed, “Field Hockey is not as popular here in the local community but our players really get a charge out of exposing the kids to a sport they don’t see every day. Some of the repeat children from last year remember some of the skills we taught them and their retention tells us they are learning a great deal.”
Head tennis coach Lonnie Mitchel added his comments, “The sport of tennis is a lifetime endeavor and is something you can share. You just never know what will resonate and maybe when any of these children pass a park with a public tennis court, they will be compelled to pick up a racquet and develop a skill that can last forever.
Tennis team manager and former player, James Garzia said, “With tennis it is accessible almost everywhere and can help a child understand the importance of being active every day.”
The children who participated in this free event were treated to loads of fun and skill learning as each team spent time teaching the skills of their specific sport. The day was split into two sessions and the children rotated to four different stations during each session that lasted 20 minutes each.
The community can continue to visit the athletics department website (www.oneontaathletics.com) to find out about more events like this one.