TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Seminoles.com) – With the offseason spent taking summer classes and working on their individual games, 12 members of the Florida State Women’s Basketball team decided to partake in a self-motivated initiative to build relationships with today’s youth. The player-created program was called ‘Taking it to the Streets.’
Throughout Tallahassee’s hottest month, the Seminoles made visits to both the Lawrence-Gregory Community Center and the LeVerne Payne Community Center in Leon County. Joined by assistant coaches, graduate assistants and other support staff members, the Florida State Women’s Basketball team interacted with the next generation by playing different sports, serving food and being mentors and role models.
Three Seminoles played large parts in putting the mentoring program together – sophomore Kai James and redshirt seniors Maegan Conwright and Lauren Coleman. All three were tasked with recruiting their teammates, organizing activities and planning each visit at the community centers.
The concept of creating a player-led program where they decided what community service to do was inspired by James. One day when eating lunch with head coach Sue Semrau, the two struck a deep conversation that eventually led to the ‘Taking it to the Streets’ program.
“Coach Sue and I were eating together one day, and we had started discussing a few things,” James said. “We started to talk about how some people in this world have so much and others don’t ever get their opportunities. It motivated our team to try and do something great with kids and really build good relationships with them.”
The players and coaches came well-stocked with food, especially pizza, and drinks. And while different sport activities were being played for fun, the team also conducted skill clinics for the children where they put them through a barrage of drills and mini competitions. An enormous dodgeball game was organized by the Seminoles, as well as relay races, carnival games, a giant bounce house and community meet and greets.
The community outreach by the women’s hoops squad was spread across a two-week period in July. On July 12 and 25, the ‘Noles visited the Lawrence-Gregory Community Center and sandwiched a visit to the LeVerne Payne Center on July 18.
The result was three awe-inspiring visits that did wonders for building friendships in the community. The 3-4 hour days brought a lot of happiness to hundreds of children who were familiar with the team just by watching television.
“These kids always see us on TV,” James added. “It was important that we allowed them to get to know us and who we are.”
Not only were the children impacted in a large way, community center staff members were also impressed at the team’s ability to connect well with the eager and appreciative youth.
“It was great,” James said of the overall experience. “We heard several different things from the staff about how much fun the kids had and how much they enjoyed hanging around with us.”
Coach Sue and her team has preached the concept of “BeMORE” that was developed over a year ago – being more than just basketball players and getting outside yourself so you can help others. For nearly 18 years she has run a program that has not only taken FSU Women’s Hoops to heights never reached before, but has served as a community staple all around the Big Bend area.
As the 2014-15 season soon approaches, the focus will be on exploiting all the talents that exist on the current roster filled with playmakers and athleticism. But one other mindset that never fades away is the team’s goal of helping others and serving as role models, the basic foundation of “BeMORE.”
For more information on Florida State women's basketball throughout the offseason, follow the Seminoles on Twitter at @FSU_WBasketball and like their official Facebook page (Facebook.com/FSUWomensBasketball).