NEWARK, Del. (May 20, 2011) - The University of Delaware Department of Athletics and Recreation hosted a very special event on Wednesday afternoon in the Delaware Field House.
Nearly 250 students from Warner Elementary School, located in Wilmington, Del., visited the Nelson Athletic Complex and participated in the first annual Blue Hens Community Field Day.
Spearheaded by senior volleyball player Katie Dennehy and senior men's basketball player Edwin Santiago, over 300 Delaware student-athletes, coaches and staff participated in a fun day of games and trivia, promoting positive behavior and sportsmanship.
"This event was a blast to plan and being able to see the smiles on the Warner students faces was an unforgettable feeling," said Dennehy of the day's events. "Bringing the elementary kids and our own student-athletes together on Wednesday really felt like we were one big family."
The field day was an effort for the athletics department to reach out and give back to the greater Delaware community. The Warner Elementary students participated in fun and games including sack races, an obstacle course, general trivia, a basketball event as well as an egg-and-spoon race. The finale of the day's events featured a tug-o-war competition to decide the team champions.
Warner administrators at the event found concepts of life lessons in each of the eight Field Day stations which they planned on taking back to their students for discussion in the classroom. Reflections included the obstacle course which had areas to jump over and areas to crawl under with the ultimate goal being to make it to the finish line; life is like the obstacle course, as long as students are running the race of life they will have highs and lows, but ultimately, they will reach their goals if they keep moving forward to the finish.
Delaware's student-athletes were grouped with different classes from Warner Elementary and stayed with them throughout the day, encouraging the Warner students in the events and competing along side of them as teammates. Many of the University's head coaches, as well as their coaching staffs, joined in the fun and games. Each group of Warner students had a coach assigned to lead them throughout the day. "It was a great opportunity for our student-athletes to be positive role models to the young students at Warner Elementary. The event was a huge success for everyone involved and I was pleased to be a part of such a wonderful day," stated head women's basketball coach Tina Martin.
"I think the students today felt something our UD athletes feel when they play, that at the end of the day it is not just about the winning and losing," said Delaware men's soccer coach Ian Hennessy. "It is more about how they play the game and the common bond and vision teammates share with each other. It is also about respecting our opponents who share that same feeling."
This was the first year for the event as the University of Delaware Athletics Department entered into a partnership with Warner Elementary of the Red Clay Consolidated School District intended to positively impact their student body through interaction with our student-athletes as role models while offering exposure to the University of Delaware campus and staff. Athletics was pleased to receive support for the event in its first year from partners including Chick-Fil-A, ADIDAS and Geiger Brandspiration.
The most coveted prize of the day, the Sportsmanship Award, was presented during closing ceremonies by Director of Athletics and Recreation Services Bernard Muir to Mr. Reuter's 5th grade class, "YoUDee Gold". The young men on this team demonstrated positive behavior, great attitudes and worked well as a team all day long, helping one another.
"Community service has always been something I enjoyed doing. Having the opportunity to plan a field day event for the school I attended, and to have the student-athletes, the staff and coaches all volunteer to participate has not only impacted UD, but also the lives of the Warner students," said Santiago, who attended Warner Elementary as a kindergartener. "This was a great opportunity to give back, and I took full advantage of it. I hope that this event encouraged the Warner students to strive for their dreams and to never give up."