Appalachian’s women’s soccer takes the time to give back to community

Appalachians womens soccer takes the time to give back to community

Jess Lyons

Many people recognize Appalachian State University athletes for what they bring to their sports, but for the women’s soccer team, it also has to do with what they bring to the community.

In 2011, head coach Sarah Strickland started the family system for her program. Each team member is put into a family of five to six teammates to help complete community service tasks in Boone.

The families are decided by the personalities of the players, and the athletes have full control over the name of their family as well as what community service activities they will complete.

There are currently six families on the team. They are The Proud Family, Spitting Llamas, The Bad Girls Club, Six-Man Wolf Pack, Seis Hermanas and The Stricklands.

“The system works really well for getting the girls involved with the community,” Strickland said. “We have alumni that still gets dinner with members of their families and it’s a great way to make incoming recruits feel welcome and show them that they have someone to rely on.”

The Mountaineers give back to the community by picking six activities and carrying them out during the offseason. A few places where the team frequents are the Humane Society, F.A.R.M. Cafe, Hardin Park Elementary and the Scholars with Diverse Abilities Program at the university.

“It’s a great way to help the shyer freshmen feel at home,” sophomore goalkeeper Megan Roberson said. “The family system is a way for all of us to get closer and really give us a way to bond with players from different years.”

Roberson said that the freedom to pick their own community service events really made she and her teammates excited about giving back to community members that support their program regularly.

Recently the team started getting dinner and interacting with students in SDAP thanks to junior defender Nicole Steyl.

“My major is Communication Sciences and Disorders and my minor is Special Education so it’s really great to bring my passion to the team by working with SDAP,” Steyl said. “We have dinners on campus with students in the program for a couple hours a week. The students really love it and it gives us a chance to get to know their stories and spend time with them.”

The family system remains unknown to most Appalachian students thanks to Strickland’s humble approach about their community service. Many of the team’s events are off campus so they can give back to more than just the university.

“The reason people are surprised about the program when they find out about it is because we don’t feel the need to pride ourselves every time the girls volunteer,” Strickland said. “We don’t need to post pictures and statuses all over social media. It’s kind of our way of thanking the community without broadcasting more than we have to.”

Strickland said the community service that the team provides for the local businesses and programs around Boone is a way to thank the community for everything they have done for the team.

The team started an online silent auction at where members of the community donated gift cards, vacation packages and gift packages to be actioned off to help fund the team’s travels next year during the Sun Belt Conference tournament.

The auction started April 14 and will end April 30. The team is currently at 31.4 percent of its $10,000 goal for the auction. All of the money raised has been raised by community members donating items to be auctioned and bidding on other auctions.

A four-on-four tournament will also be held April 26 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. as a salute to the community members. The women’s soccer team will act as referees at the event which will be catered by donations from local grocers like Harris Teeter and Lowes Foods.

“So much is given to us by the community that all of our players are happy to partake in the program,” Strickland said. “Everyone gets so excited to find out what family they’re in when they get recruited here and the system has been a huge success in giving the team a way to give back to our community.”

Story: Jess Lyons, Sports Reporter