FEATURE: Above & Beyond--Cougars in the Community

Oct. 8, 2012

When measuring success in sports, we tend to aim towards the numbers, the honors, and the records. Though, it is something hidden and sometimes overshadowed that alludes to success that Houston student-athletes have come to realize and enjoy.

What makes a person respectable in their sport? What makes a true athlete succeed on levels off the playing surface? It is the work, the pride, and the experience our student-athletes gain when away from competition and in the community that make them so special.

It begins with the student-athletes and their commitment to bettering the community around them. Houston prides itself in the ability to reach out and encourage young faces to pursue dreams of representing something larger than just oneself one day, being a part of a team, and sharing their love for our city.

"It is extremely important for Houston student-athletes to get involved with our community," volleyball junior student-athlete and SAAC secretary Meredith Ware said. "As Division I college athletes, many people in the community look up to us. Volunteering, especially with children, can help inspire those young kids to pursue their goals of getting an education and possibly even encourage them to play a sport at a higher level. To know that we are helping people obtain a better future is completely worthwhile."

Houston student-athletes continue to build relationships in the Houston community, having participated in several events thus far in 2012. It began with a trip just down the road to Generation One by several teams.

Generation One is a local trans-denominational ministry located in the Third Ward of Houston that is committed to making sure that "the next generation Knows What Their Potential Is and Believes That They Can Achieve It!"

With that effort, members of the Houston volleyball, tennis, women's basketball and track and field teams went above and beyond by sharing their love of the community with the young aspiring children of Generation One.  

From assisting them with studies, reading books, and coloring to playing indoor and outdoor competitive games, Generation One was a part of something big and Houston student-athletes exposed that opportunity to those who support them on and off the field as fans.

"Giving back is important because growing up there's a lot of people who don't have positive role models to look up to," freshman women's basketball guard Jessieka Palmer said.  "It was a great experience, not only for the kids but for us as well."

Continuing their effort to stay active leaders in the community, Houston's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) participated in a literacy program with local children at Harvard Elementary School. There, the student-athletes read to children on `Literacy Night' and encouraged the importance of continuing their education if they want to be committed to success in the future.
The Houston men's basketball team helped volunteers from St. Andrew's Episcopal Church unload nearly 2,400 pumpkins weighing almost 44,000 pounds for an annual fundraiser last weekend. Despite the wet weather, the Cougars had a great time and met some new Houston fans.

Houston student-athletes, from every sport, take time out of their days to showcase community involvement within our city. For that, success becomes instilled and the student-athletes become grounded individuals with volunteerism accompanying their records, numbers, and honors.

"Working in the community and representing Houston Athletics is something we all strive to be better at," third-year golf student-athlete and SAAC media liaison Wesley McClain said. "We always look forward to building relationships within our community and it happens to always be a successful adventure for everyone involved."



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