WASHINGTON - Following a record-breaking 2011 season, the Catholic University field hockey team looked forward to giving back to the community this year. The service initiatives featured two return volunteer opportunities with the U.S. Armed Forces Retirement Home and the DC Special Olympics, and the team also took on two new events on the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service and with the CUA Student Athlete Advisory food drive.
Beginning in December with a trip to the Armed Forces Retirement home, the Cardinals spread holiday cheer while decking the halls with garland, lights, ornaments, and five-foot nutcrackers. The girls spent time talking with the veterans and enjoyed hearing some great stories. Freshman Katie Welsh said, "It was a great chance for us to give back to those who have done so much and asked for nothing in return." The team kept up its competitive edge by making teams and facing off in a Christmas tree decorating contest.
Along with 500 other Catholic University students, the team participated in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of service in February. Students were broken into several different service projects and transported to various locations in Washington, D.C. The field hockey team was assigned to cleanup duty at a local park.
Despite a slight chill in the air, the team felt a great sense of accomplishment as they filled up bag after bag, and beatified and renewed the area for local children and families to enjoy. "We did the MLK day of service for the first time this year," said rising senior Erica Guenthner, who was responsible for organizing the team's service projects this year. We helped clean up a huge nearby park and I really liked participating in service with my teammates. It felt like the CUA community was helping out our local community."
Finals week could not keep the team away from helping out at the D.C. Special Olympics qualifier held in Cardinal Stadium. Nearly 70 D.C. athletes qualified in various track and field events, some of which included the softball throw, running long jump, various distance sprints and relays and the 25-meter walk.
The team helped organize the athletes and record times and distance all while cheering them on in each event. "It makes me feel great when I see smiles on the kids' faces," said freshman Kristen Harrison. "It is an event they look forward to so much. I am so happy to be a part of a team that can make a difference!"
With summer right around the corner, volunteering at this event was the perfect way to cap off a great year.