The piercing screech of sneakers on a hardwood floor while excitedly chasing down a kickball that just got launched into the bleachers usually reminds you of elementary school gym class. Behind you roars a sea of voices echoing off the open gymnasium walls telling you to “Run! Run!”
Childhood memories are what student athletes and coaches at SUNY New Paltz set out to create by organizing their annual Kids Sports Night on Friday, April 13 at the Athletic & Wellness Center.
At least 150 local kids, ranging from ages six to 12, participated in activities like soccer, volleyball, basketball, relay races, capture the flag, dodge ball, kickball and more.
Second-year volleyball player Marissa King was one of the student athletes in charge of the event. King said it was a great opportunity to contribute to the New Paltz community.
“It gives us a chance to give back,” King said. “It raises awareness for kids to get active instead of sitting around at home.”
King is also a member of the Student Athlete Leadership Academy, which sets out to shape first and second-year student athletes into leaders not only on the court, but in the community as well.
Each year the second-year students of the Leadership Academy work with the first-year students to ensure everything is prepared and organized properly.
Student leaders in charge of the event were all over the gym helping out and playing with the group of children who attended the event. Aside from participating in the event, group members plan out the advertising, registration and choose the activities.
Second-year volleyball player Brigid Moore was involved with the leadership program last year, but now finds herself in a mentoring role for this year’s first-year class. When asked about the event, Moore said she wants kids involved with sports at an early age, so that maybe one day they can be the next generation of student athletes.
Mentoring these leaders is Women’s Basketball Head Coach Jamie Seward. Seward stressed the important role of the student athletes running the program.
“It is 100 percent run by the student athletes,” Seward said. “It is a great opportunity for our athletes to interact with the community.”
Parents in attendance enjoyed seeing their children having fun on the court. Julie and Ralph Anderson said this kind of event is what their son needs at his age.
“Ryan’s a very active kid, always playing with his friends outside and this is great for him to be able to make new friends and play his favorite sports,” Ralph Anderson said.