Contact: Wendel Sloan at 505.562.2253
(Greyhounds Rack Up More Than 5,000 Volunteer Man-Hours in Community)
PORTALES—Eastern New Mexico University varsity football players racked up more than 5,000 man-hours of community service projects in the Clovis/Portales area in the last year—including helping kindergarteners learn to read.
Working in nine 8–10 person teams, the groups competed against each other for points. The top two teams, captained by J. J. Ortiz and Fide Davalos, were recently treated to a steak dinner cooked by the coaches at the First Baptist Church in Portales.
The other teams got the honor of cleaning out the bathrooms, showers, locker rooms, etc., at the football field house.
"We want to give back to the community for the support they show us," said head coach Mark Ribaudo. "Performing community service projects gives our players a chance to get to know people, and a sense of perspective about what's important. I believe that it's one of the best things we've done in helping develop the character of our players."
Ribaudo said that the projects ran a wide gamut to help individuals and organizations. A few included helping kindergarteners at Brown Elementary in Portales to read, talking to kids in Clovis elementary schools about making "good choices," manual labor at Cannon Air Force Base, participating in the Great American Clean-up by picking up trash along roads, helping with National P.E. Day for public school students in Greyhound Arena, working with detective Lonnie Barry in a talk to local students, a football camp for kids, attending city council meetings, yard work for individuals, and many other projects.
Running back Fide Davalos's team worked with kindergarten teacher Deirdre Washburn at Brown Elementary in Portales at 8 a.m. every Wednesday. They helped her students read, as well as other activities — including making fun things such as caves and rockets out of large boxes.
Fide's team also took a field trip with the kindergarteners to the Greyhound football fieldhouse. While there, they helped the kids learn to read by showing them an example of each letter of the alphabet. For example, they would hold up the letter "B" next to a "big" football player, or a "D" for "defense."
"It was an amazing experience," said Davalos. "We got to know the kids as little brothers and sisters, and they got to know us as people. We really looked forward to seeing them each week."
Ms. Washburn, who received her master's on Saturday from ENMU, took photos of the football players working with the kids, and is now incorporating it into an "alphabet" book she hopes to get published.
"We want the community to know the Greyhounds as people and not just football players," said Ribaudo. "And we want our players to know that their performance off the field is just as important as their performance on the field — although I think they complement each other."