Basketball Bears Stay Active in Community During Summer Months
As July comes to an end, the Missouri State University basketball Bears wrap up a busy month of community service initiatives around the city of Springfield, making lifelong friends -- and fans -- along the way.
Cuonzo Martin's squad started the summer with a trip to the Pediatrics Unit at Cox Hospital South on July 1. The players on the trip took time to visit with each young patient at the Springfield hospital, wishing them a speedy recovery and providing them ample smiles to do so.
"It is important to our program that our players take time to help others," Martin said. "It is not just about winning games, but also about developing young men and learning the value of giving back."
On July 8, the Bears were back in the community, volunteering at The Kitchen in downtown Springfield. Players stocked shelves, cleaned windows and provided essential support for the facility which is widely recognized as a progressive innovator for meeting the poverty and homeless needs of the community. The Kitchen provides assistance and services ranging from housing, food, counseling, youth services, life skills and homelessness prevention.
The next week, a group of players volunteered to have lunch and play basketball with children in need at McGregor School. Thanks to a generous donation from Rob Fulp of Bancorp South to provide 100 pairs of shoes to local elementary children, the Bears got to share in the excitement as young people in Springfield received the shoes.
The next evening, July 13, the Bears surprised their adopted teammate, Levi Nelson, from the Champions Committed to Kids program. As he was about to take the mound for his Willard youth baseball team, Levi noticed a dozen of his Missouri State teammates in the stands and responded by throwing a no-hitter in a 12-0 victory.
Martin said the opportunity for his players to give back to the community teaches life lessons that cannot be learned on the court or in the practice gym.
Collectively, Missouri State University athletic teams record more than 160 hours of community service annually.
The Bears are in the process of finalizing their 2010-11 non-conference schedule which is expected to be released in August with the Missouri Valley Conference portion of the schedule due in September.
MSU returns five starters and 91-percent of its scoring from a 2009-10 team that finished 24-12 overall and claimed the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament title. Season ticket information is available now by calling (417) 836-4143.