Western athletes reach out to community

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009


Jonas Hrebeniuk

A NEW TAKE ON EDUCATION. Kinesiology Professor Craig Boydell took his Sport and Community Service class out of the lecture hall and into Alumni Hall, organizing a volleyball tournament for local high school students.

Altruism is a recurring theme in kinesiology Professor Craig Boydell’s Sport and Community Service class.

Former Mustangs men’s basketball coach Boydell and his students organized a volleyball tournament for First Nations students in the London community last Friday. The event came on the coattails of February’s First Nations track and field day.

“This particular event is part of an outreach program that we’ve established through the [Sport and Community Service] class in co-operation with the Indigenous Services on campus,” Boydell said. “This has become a tremendous partnership that’s also had a major learning component for the students.”

The event was organized to give local First Nations high-school students a chance to play in a structured volleyball tournament in a venue they wouldn’t normally use.

Boydell’s students include current and former varsity athletes, including volleyballers Colin O’Brien and Alexis Karpacz, track and field stars Andrew Judge and Shellie McParland and women’s hoopster Bess Lennox.

“Taking part in Professor Boydell’s class has been a university-altering experience,” said Karpacz, a fourth-year kinesiology student. “As a group of varsity athletes, I think all of us have learned that sports [are] more than just a game.

“Giving back to the community is a great way to use our status as well as our resources to promote a healthy lifestyle " another prevalent theme in our course.”

Unfortunately, the event wasn’t as well-attended as was hoped. Eight teams were supposed to play in the tournament, but only two made it to Alumni Hall. According to the students, adapting to the change in plan was as strong a learning experience as any.

“The event was a personal accomplishment for me because we had to come up with new ideas and a new schedule on the spot,” O’Brien said.

“What really impressed me was how the group had a contingency plan for anything that might go wrong,” Boydell said.

Boydell’s rewarding teaching strategies aren’t conventional but aim to offer original situations for the students.

“In the process [of how I teach the class], there’s learning in a wide variety of areas,” Boydell said. “[This variety] is just not possible in a conventional classroom.”

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