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Aggie athletes get holiday spirit as kids ‘Shop with a Jock’

December 12th, 2010 Posted in Arts and Life, Opinion

By Ty Rogers

LOGAN—It’s not every year that I can feel like I lived up to the “Christmas spirit” associated with the holidays. Each year it gets harder to do something good for somebody else, but what would Christmas be if everybody just sat around and waited to receive?

This year is different because the Christmas spirit is high in Logan, especially last week when local kids got a chance to Shop with a Jock.

Twenty-five USU student-athletes, along with Big Blue, took part in a community outreach project sponsored by eFORCE, a local law enforcement software company on USU’s Innovation Campus.

On Thursday, eFORCE provided 10 local children, ages 6 to 12, the chance to do some Christmas shopping with USU athletes. Each kid got a $150 gift card at ShopKo, and had one hour to spend their money.

“We got the names of the kids from a local elementary school that was aware of the needs some of their kids have during the holiday season,” said eFORCE CEO Corey Bowers.

The evening began at the Dee Glenn Smith Spectrum, where the Aggie athletes took turns signing the kids’ posters and t-shirts. Some of the kids had no problem interacting, although some had trouble warming up to a room full of strangers.

Football player Devin Johnson was among the athletes who helped chaperone the kids. “We made up a handshake just to make them a little more comfortable,” he said.

After the kids got all the autographs they could fit on their posters and shirts, the Aggie athletes were introduced to the kids they would be shopping with. After some photos, everyone boarded a bus to spend an hour shopping at ShopKo.

I was one of the athletes who helped push a 7-year-old boy around in a shopping cart. After acquiring everything on his “Need” list, we dove into his “Want” list.

I’ve never seen a kid his age who knew exactly what he wanted like he did. He never complained, pouted or even stopped smiling. I doubt I gave him as much joy as he gave me.

Sometimes it is easy for student-athletes to gorget that we have responsibilities outside classrooms and practice fields.

“I think we are role models in the kids’ lives in all aspects,” said Johnson. “They learn a lot from us and sometimes we don’t even know it.”

Amber Rae Childers, the Academic/Life Skills Coordinator in Student-Athlete Services at USU, helped eFORCE make the event happen. She says the student-athletes provided the kids with a great experience, while gaining something important themselves.

“Participating in community outreach is one element of a student-athletes’ holistic experience while at Utah State,” Childers said.

Bowers agrees. He thinks the guidance that student-athletes provide is a huge part of what the event is about. “We want them (kids) to have a positive experience with these role models so that they will have that desire to get a degree,” Bowers said.

Bowers said his company has a lot of respect for the university because many of their employees are USU graduates. With events like this, Bowers hopes to spread the word and get more companies on board to help more kids each year.

“Our customer base is not necessarily a local one, but we feel this even brings our company together and gives us the opportunity to give back,” he said.

For me and the other Aggie “jocks” who participated, the event wasn’t just about shopping, but about the kids’ overall holiday experience.

Ty Rogers is an Aggie football player who graduates this month.


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  1. One Response to “Aggie athletes get holiday spirit as kids ‘Shop with a Jock’”

  2. By Tori on Dec 21, 2010

    This is really great! Thanks for participating in SWAJ this year.

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