LSU, Alabama student-athletes give back during BCS weekend
By Cody WorshamPosted Jan 18, 2012
Between the lines, BCS championship weekend was a forgettable one for LSU fans.
Away from the gridiron, however, several dozen Tigers made a memorable impact in the lives of two cities familiar with tragedy.
In partnership with building champions through service with the Boys & Girls Club of Southeast Louisiana, 49 LSU student-athletes from the football, softball, swimming and diving and track and field programs volunteered their time during championship weekend at the Allstate BCS Service Project. The LSU cheerleaders along with Mike the Tiger were also in attendance to serve the New Orleans community.
The student-athletes pitched in to renovate the Boys & Girls Club of New Orleans. Projects included painting fences, rooms inside the club and murals on new garden signage in addition to landscaping the club yard and laying sod in the yards of the nearby homes.
“The BCS Service Project was one to remember,” softball’s Ashley Applegate said. “We all gathered to give back to a community that needs our help. It reminded us that our university is bigger and touches more lives that just what we as student-athletes do on the field. Today it was all about this community.”
LSU head coach Les Miles, like Applegate, appreciates the impact the LSU community has in New Orleans. Miles, who won a national championship with the Tigers shortly after Hurricane Katrina, said the memories of his last football visit to New Orleans has stayed with him.
“You remember the drive in and you recognize that Katrina was not long ago,” he said. “I remember the memories as I traveled the city one of my first times and really found out how important to this city that LSU was here.”
Despite the rivalry between the two schools on the field, it wasn’t all bitterness between LSU and Alabama. Joined by student-athlete volunteers from Alabama, blankets were made to send back to Tuscaloosa to those affected by April’s tornadoes.
“It was awesome to come together with student-athletes from both universities,” swimming and diving’s Chris Mericas said. “We wanted to come to New Orleans and give back to a city that is such a cultural center for our state. It was a perfect day to come out and volunteer.”
One of the day’s highlights was when the 26 football players in attendance created a temporary field and played a game with the children from the Boys & Girls Club.
“Today’s event was wonderful,” football’s Dexter Alexander said. “It’s always great to be a blessing, whether it’s blessing others or blessing the community. Improvement and giving back to your community is always a necessity. As a team, we love to be the reason to make someone’s day brighter.”
Track and Field’s Brandon Gordon, who serves as LSU’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee Vice President, also completed a separate project as a student captain at the Hoffman Triangle Phase II Development Location where the volunteers completed a project of landscaping 10 houses in the neighborhood where the Boys & Girls is located.