When the softball coach at the University of Houston-Victoria asked for five volunteers to mentor area school children, her players were upset.
All of them wanted the chance to help students in the Victoria area succeed, said Keri Lambeth, Jaguars head softball coach.
Members of the Jaguars baseball and softball teams pick a community cause every year to volunteer for as part of the Champions of Character program organized by the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, she said.
“This year, we decided to volunteer with several groups,” Lambeth said. But just because they’re all volunteering with Sure B.E.T.’s (Business and Education Together) Helping One Student to Succeed (HOSTS) mentoring program doesn’t mean other charities will lose out.
All the players volunteered their time to Sure B.E.T., in addition to other volunteer efforts, their school work and a hectic athletics schedule.
“These are the exact types of student athletes I’ve always dreamed of recruiting,” Lambeth said. “These ladies demonstrate excellence in the classroom, on the field and in service to the community.”
Two new recruits to the team this season said they were looking forward to the experience.
“I just want to make a difference,” said junior Justine Prewitt, an outfielder for the Jaguars. “When you work with kids, they look up to you and really admire you.”
A fellow player voiced similar thoughts.
“Being a mentor makes a difference,” said Courtney Pettit, a junior who plays first base. “If I can be the one person they can open up to, that would be cool, especially because being in high school these days is plenty stressful.”
Tasha Rotramel, a senior who was a mentor with the program last year, said she couldn’t wait to return.
“Being a big sister of three makes me realize how important it is for students to have someone to look up to,” the Jaguars pitcher said. “This program gives me a chance to be a big sister to students who may not have anyone like that.”
The program was deeply rewarding for her, as well as the students, she said.
“It was fun seeing their faces light up when I went in every time,” she said. “I think I got as much out of it as my two students did.”
Rhonda Fotiades, executive director of Sure B.E.T., praised the softball team’s desire to serve.
“The UHV Jaguars softball team is an amazing asset to our community,” Fotiades said. “These women are role models for our future leaders.”
The baseball team is organizing its own volunteer efforts to begin later this semester, UHV Athletics Director Ashley Walyuchow said.
For more information about mentoring, call Sure B.E.T. at 361-485-6642 or visit www.surebetvictoria.com.