Tech soccer committed to service at local elementary school
Sep 06, 2011
Golden Eagle players a weekly presence at
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. — Parkview Elementary School teacher
Lori White knew her second-graders had taken to the Tennessee Tech
soccer players who regularly help out in her classroom when she
began to notice the athletes becoming sought-after lunch
Like most teachers at Parkview, White utilizes the services of
the Golden Eagle soccer players who serve at the school to help her
with making copies, grading papers and organizing her
But she ventures to say that one of the most valuable products
of the student-athletes’ service at the Cookeville elementary
school is less tangible.
“The kids love the soccer girls,” she says.
“They’ll stick around with them at lunchtime and talk
to them, bond with them over lunch.”
While there certainly is nothing out of the ordinary about
collegiate student-athletes performing community service, the
Tennessee Tech soccer team does things a little bit
Since the arrival of second-year head coach Daniel Brizard, the
Golden Eagles have made a special commitment to Parkview. Soccer
players come to the school several times a week during the
preseason, then spend several hours in their assigned classrooms
each week for the remainder of the school year.
Their job is, quite literally, to do anything and everything
asked of them.
“I gave the principal carte blanche on whatever he
needed,” Brizard says of his team’s relationship with
the school. “If they need someone to sweep the hallways,
that’s what we’re there to do, to help this school
In reality, the tasks the student-athletes most regularly
perform range from secretarial duties to helping children on an
individual basis to simply being an ear for a child practicing
The result of a standing commitment from one team to one school
is familiarity, a family-like atmosphere that senior defender
Lindsey Reed says is a special one.
“I feel like we make a huge difference,” says Reed.
“The kids are so great to actually know and spend time with.
It’s so helpful to go and be with one classroom and build a
relationship with the kids. I think it’s good for them to see
a role model that is not only playing a sport, but going to school
and getting that degree.”
Though he is responsible for establishing the Tech team’s
relationship with Parkview, Brizard says he can’t take credit
for the idea — he picked it up at a previous coaching stop
and decided to give it a try in Cookeville.
“We used to do this at one of the other schools I was
at,” he says. “I saw such a positive impact in the
community as well as with the teams I had been working for.
We’re fortunate enough to play college soccer and have some
advantages in life, and some kids need a little extra help to see
that they can do these same things our players are
Prior to the start of their own academic year, the team travels
to Parkview as a unit for an introduction and their first service
sessions. When Tech is in session, the players settle into an
individual schedule of when they spend their time at the elementary
Generally, two or three athletes are assigned to a particular
“It has meant a lot to us,” says Parkview principal
Bobby Winningham. “It takes a little of the pressure of the
daily routine away from the teachers, and the girls have been
wonderful in all they’ve done for us. We’ve never had a
group come in and make the kind of commitment to volunteering with
us that they have.”
Each athlete has her own individual Parkview experience. For
example, Reed spent most of the 2010-11 year working with
preschoolers, spending most of her time in close contact with the
While she enjoyed the experience, she hopes to use her Spanish
knowledge to work with the school’s ESL program this
While the student-athlete’s experiences may differ,
it’s the commitment and continuity they experience in serving
at Parkview that Brizard believes is most valuable.
“A lot of kids can go and read to a school for a
half-hour, and I think that’s a great thing to do,” he
says. “But I think to have an impact in a student’s
life over a long period of time is much more rewarding, not only
for the student or teacher, but for our student-athletes.
“I had some girls who thought they never liked kids, and
they can’t wait to go back every week. The kids look forward
to our girls coming in their class, and that’s a really