Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Central Missouri is looking for more volunteer mentors. To find them it turned to something as simple as mud.
Mudball ’07 was held Saturday to raise awareness for the organization. The mud volleyball tournament featured seven co-ed teams of at least six players ages 18-and-older. Competition was held on two sloppy, muck-filled courts just west of Hinkson Field. Several Big Brother and Sister mentors, or Bigs, possible Bigs to be, and those just looking to have fun paid $75 each to cover tournament costs.
Dave Dietrich, a recruitment specialist for the central Missouri office who ran the event, said it gave players the chance to network with others their own age and see if this volunteer opportunity was right for them.
“We really wanted to show the young working professional that this is an opportunity that doesn’t take much time,” Dietrich said. “Really, to get some of these people out and acting like kids again.”
Big Brothers and Big Sisters serves 856 children in central Missouri, but would like to serve 1,200 and it has 100 to 200 children on their waiting list looking for mentors.
The Mud Daubers’ Nicole Foreman, 22, was elated that her team rallied from a 14-10 deficit in their second game to win their first match. She said the sloppy playing conditions didn’t bother her at all.
“I have nephews and nieces, so I’m playing in the mud all the time,” Foreman said.
She played in a white shirt and shorts, which turned out to be the only thing she could find in a size small for the event.
“I wasn’t going to ruin anything I own,” Coleman said. “I went and bought some clothes, and the white chose me, I didn’t chose the white.”
By the end of the tournament, her outfit was dirtier than a trucker’s mud flap. As was the case with many players shirts, skin and shoes.
Foreman, a California native moved to Columbia a year ago and decided mentoring as a Big Sister could broaden her horizon. She used a variety of tactics to help Bemeja, a fourth-grader she was matched with.
“I didn’t really know anyone, but I felt that I had a lot to offer.” Foreman said. “She was having trouble with her reading, and I’d try to incorporate that in everything we did. If we played games on the computer, I’d have her read the directions.”
However, Foreman tried to keep things fun and not so serious.
“There came a point were I thought she doesn’t need another teacher in her life, she needs a friend,” Foreman said.
Foreman said she is aware of the importance of being a mentor.
“There are children that don’t have that necessarily good of a family life, and they need to get that from somewhere,” Foreman said. “Or if you are in a classroom with 30 other kids, it’s hard for that teacher to get that attention for the ones that need it. Everybody needs to have some fun in their life.”
She said spending an hour with Bemeja every Wednesday for an entire school year is the thing she’ll remember most about coming to Columbia.
“I remember her smile,” she said. “It took a while to get it out of her. Yet when it finally came, and she let her guard down and could be goofy, it was worth it. It brightened my day.”
Katherine Reiter, 22, who played for Pop, Drop and Lock-It on Saturday, said she is considering getting more involved with Big Brothers and Big Sisters because the mentor she had growing up left an indelible mark on her.
“When I was younger, I had an older person hanging out with me, and shaped some characteristics and showed me how to live,” Reiter said. “I was wondering why this person would ever wanted to give me the time of day. But she really opened my eyes to how much difference in someone’s life you can be.”
Reiter should have a lot of chances to influence lives. She will spend her first year teaching at West Jr. High under a MU fellows program in order to obtain her master’s degree. She also plans to make time either after school or on weekends to become a mentor in the area.
“I think it is really important to be in the lives of the youth,” Reiter said. “Especially with the vulnerability that is out there today.”
Reiter was one of the muddiest players Saturday at Hinkson. She said a summer playing sand volleyball had her conditioned to go all out.
“It (the mud) makes it so much easier to dive,” Reiter said. “I like hustling around the court Anything active and messy, I’m there for sure.”
Teams were divided into either the Filthy or Dirty divisions. The team in each division that won the most matches faced the other division’s top contender for $100 worth of gift certificates. The Old Guys, who thought they would be the oldest competing, were tournament champions. The second-place Mud Daubers won an office party at a Columbia comedy club.