Missouri women's soccer team devotes time to volunteering

Thursday, October 15, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 10:55 a.m. CST, Thursday, November 19, 2009
Missouri soccer player Meghan Pfeiffer helps Skylar Vahle build a crash test bridge during an industrial technology class Oct. 8, 2009, at Lange Middle School in Columbia.

COLUMBIA — Meghan Pfeiffer wears safety goggles in Lange Middle School’s seventh grade industrial technology class where students are creating complex crash test bridges out of Popsicle sticks and Super Glue. She floats around from table to table, checking on students’ progress.

Pfeiffer, a senior, along with senior Kristin Andrighetto and freshman Edith Lopez are MU women’s soccer players who volunteered to spend time helping out the middle school students.

Coach Bryan Blitz said community outreach is important to the team. Each player is required to do a minimum of two hours of service work a week.

“When we recruit these players, we tell their family we’re going to help impact their lives in a positive manner,” he said. “We talk about academics, we talk about the community and about helping them go from 18-year-olds to young women and that’s part of the process. I think, just in general, sometimes young people can feel entitled, and it helps them see how fortunate we all are."

Part of the reason the team volunteers is to work toward winning the Tiger Cup at the end of the year. The Tiger Cup is an overall achievement award given out at the Athletic Department’s ROARS Awards Show to a team that displayed excellence in academics, community service, life skills, athletics and supporting other athletes. Although the team lost the Tiger Cup to the gymnastics team last year, it has won the Community Service Award the past two years.

Kim Martin, the Assistant Athletics Director for Life Skills, said the soccer team is not alone in making the Tiger Cup’s community service aspect one of its program’s priorities.

“One hundred percent of our teams are out doing community service in some way and all choose to do different things,” she said. “All of them are out in our community, making it a priority. We feel it's one of our core values and we feel we should want to and need to give back to the community that gives us so much in the form of support, and it's really important to give back and have our students be out there to say thank you.”

Pfeiffer enjoys giving back to the community and sees volunteering as more than an obligation.

“We go every week somewhere so that we can get known in the community and it’s fun,” she said. “People react well to us, the children like us and it’s a good way to get fans. I never realized how much work people put in, so it’s always nice for them to have extra hands. At first it’s kind of like, ‘Oh man, I have to do this,' but then you just feel so much better about yourself afterward because people really appreciate you taking time out of your day.”

Each week, the players are allowed to pick from different volunteer opportunities at various locations such as area schools, the Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans' Hospital and the Central Missouri Food Bank. When traveling, the team also collects hotel shampoo and conditioner bottles to give to the local women’s shelter and gives tours of the athletic facilities to sick children.

Andrighetto and junior Kari Adam were also motivated to take part in community service during the offseason through Big Brothers Big Sisters.

“It’s kind of something we wanted to do on the outside, and spring was perfect because we aren’t traveling or in season,” she said. “The kids are awesome to be with, and we always have a good time. We try and do it once a week and do something little like play at the park, get ice cream or go to a movie.”

Blitz thinks that no matter what the service project is, both the players and the community members can learn something from each other.

“I think it reminds the players how lucky they are to go to a school like Mizzou, how lucky we are with the families we have, with the opportunities we have. ... Maybe their lessons from athletics or just life can help somebody else.”

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