COVID-19 has significantly outperforming the volunteer efforts of Clemson University student athletes in South Carolina but the global pandemic did not stop them from linking with all the surrounding community in fresh ways, according to a director with the university‘s athletic department.
Prior to the pandemic, student athletes like basketball player Trey Jemison met with children in person at Ravenel Elementary School twice or once weekly for 20 moments as part of their Paw Pals mentorship program. Tasks included tutoring, exercising, eating lunch together or just talking but the program has since been postponed.
“We tried to continue virtually but it just wasn’t as successful,” said Anthony Hines, assistant director of student-athlete development at Clemson University. “It’s pretty tough especially with trying to get the young students to handle technology online. Even going through their parents just wasn’t as successful. Hopefully, this upcoming fall semester, the mentorship program will be up and running.”
“Unfortunately, we have been unable to promote our in-person services but we still have been connected to the community in some way, shape, or form,” Hines said.
Clemson University is famous for its soccer team and mascot, the Clemson Tigers, as well as some other sports applications like basketball, golf, volleyball, softball, rowing and soccer. A tiger paw is Clemson University’s logo.
The army school was originally founded in 1893 since the Clemson Agricultural College and catered to white males exclusively until 1955 and 1963 when women and people of colour were admitted. Clemson Agricultural College was renamed Clemson University in 1964.
What was operating during the pandemic related governmental shut down is distant reading to children every week while they’re in class at elementary schools, such as Clemson Elementary, La France Elementary and Northside Elementary.
After reading to a classroom of kids, student athletes like Auburn Dantice and John Martin answer questions that the kids ask, for example: what is your favorite candy? “Being able to have that extra piece of connectivity at the end provides the kids an opportunity to socialize,” Hines said. “They gain a little bit of conversation and the student athletes get to know the kids and the kids get to know the student athletes.”