When Andrea Hines was in preschool, a visit from basketball players inspired her to start playing the sport.
Now a freshman guard on the UCF women’s basketball team, Hines and her teammates shot hoops Friday with preschoolers from UCF’s Creative School for Children. They encouraged the kids as they took their best shots at a hoop a few feet off the ground.
“When I was younger, this was how I started playing,” Hines said. “Older kids came to my preschool and showed me how to play. It feels good to return the favor today.”
Several UCF football and women’s soccer players joined the women’s basketball team at the field day program at Creative School for Children, a nationally accredited school on UCF’s campus that serves children ages 2 to 5.
The outreach initiative was one of many ways in which UCF’s student-athletes complete give back to the community. In the past two years, 1,430 student-athletes have spent nearly 170,000 hours volunteering throughout Central Florida.
Players helped the children with various activities. The children played catch with the student-athletes, kicked soccer balls and worked on their basketball skills. The Knights were able to help the youth have a fun day and learn some of the keys to each sport. These memorable activities left both the student-athletes and children with ear-to-ear smiles.
Khalilah Mitchell, director of program development for the UCF women’s basketball team, said giving back helps to teach the student-athletes life lessons.
“It humbles all of the players and coaches any time we get the chance to interact with youth,” she said. “To help the kids understand the fundamentals and aspects of the game is a great opportunity for our program.”
Senior fullback Billy Giovanetti said he appreciates the importance of volunteering, especially when it comes to helping youth. He wishes he had had the opportunity to interact with football players when he was young.
“It means a lot,” he said. “As a little kid, if we had football players around that would have been big to me.”
UCF women’s soccer redshirt junior Kristen Poulton likes to volunteer at events with children because so many of them support her team at games.
“It is important to give back to them when they support us,” she said.
Maybe someday the children who were interacting with UCF’s student-athletes on Friday will be throwing touchdown passes, scoring goals and shooting three-pointers for the Knights.
“I think we have a lot of future UCF football players,” senior wide receiver Rob Calabrese said. “We had a lot of great athletes out there this morning.”