WACO, Texas — Rogers State University has been named the inaugural winner of the Heartland Conference Community Service and Student-Athlete Impact Award as announced by the league office on Friday.
The award is given to the institution within the Heartland Conference that best engages and serves its community during the year.
The Hillcats completed more than 5,000 hours of community service and engagement throughout the year. RSU’s unique partnership with RCB Bank and Claremont Elementary School allowed student-athletes to develop long-standing relationships with Claremont students throughout the year.
“Giving back and engaging the community is an emphasis within the Athletic Department at Rogers State University,” RSU Director of Athletics Chris Ratcliff said. “We understand our duty as members of the Claremore and Rogers County community to strive to enrich the community every chance we get.”
During the basketball season, Rogers State hosted its first VIP Game for Claremont Elementary students. Students were given VIP passes to a RSU basketball game, a hot dog lunch, door prizes and a grand giveaway of a new bike for two lucky students. The game was just one of many partnerships the Hillcats developed with the school throughout the year.
“RSU’s partnership with our school has elevated our students both in and out of the classroom. Their continued support and volunteerism has created a connection that goes beyond just one event,” Claremont Elementary first grade teacher Jessica Peck said.
Each of RSU’s 14 athletic programs completed multiple service projects throughout the season ranging from hosting the VIP Day with Claremont Elementary to volunteering at the Claremont Crayon Run to working with a local Special Olympics softball team.
Rogers State becomes the first winner of the Heartland Conference Community Service and Student-Athlete Impact Award. The Hillcats were tops among a group of three finalists that included Newman, who finished in second place, and Texas A&M International.
Newman completed 3,128 hours of community service throughout the year. The Jets worked with Team IMPACT to recruit 11-year-old Julian Randle to the Newman men’s basketball program. The Jets signed Julian, who suffers from a chronic juvenile illness, to a letter of intent and held a special introductory news conference welcoming him to the team. He attended several Newman men’s basketball games and on days when his treatment prevented him from attending, members of the NU basketball team would make special trips to visit him in the hospital.
Texas A&M International was also named a finalist after completing 996 hours of community service as a department. The Dustdevils worked with Voz de Ninos, a group of advocates for abused and neglected children, in Laredo, Texas to organize a Christmas Toy Drive to benefit the children receiving services through the program. As part of the toy drive for the volunteer-based organization, kids were treated to a VIP experience at a Texas A&M International basketball doubleheader.
The Heartland Conference Community Service and Student-Athlete Impact Award finalists are comprised of the top three service schools by hours. The winner of the award is selected from the finalists by a group comprised of conference Senior Women’s Administrators, Faculty Athletics Representatives and student-athletes.
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