HARRISONBURG, Va.—James Madison’s softball team visited Spotswood High School for the district’s second annual Blazer Pride Day anti-bullying carnival on Aug. 30.
This community fun day was hosted to support the anti-bullying program Olweus. The event consisted of a carnival, high school football game and free movie night. Activities were available for children ranging from Little Blazers, those ages 4-8, to high school students. The goal of the program is to raise awareness of the effects of bullying, how to combat such harassment and to promote Blazer pride.
The Dukes were assigned to different activities at the carnival. They were able to interact with the community by running the game booths and helping with the inflatable obstacles. Senior Catherine Clavin recalls seeing some familiar faces during this time.
“It’s nice to interact with the community,” said sophomore Jailyn Ford. “Being a softball player, you don’t get to do it as often as you would like to. So when we have events like this it’s really nice to get out and see what’s going on outside of softball and JMU.”
Spotswood High School holds a special place in head coach Mickey Dean’s heart as it is his former high school.
“It is always rewarding to be able to help in the community,” said Dean. “This was special in that my team was able to participate and Spotswood is where I graduated from. So that made it especially rewarding. I was also able to see some friends I haven’t seen in over 20 years. I was surprised at how many people were at the event and that says a great deal about this community. It is still the same kind and caring community I grew up in.”
For each of their community service activities, the softball coaches have one member of the team compose a testimonial to describe the experience. Here are thoughts from freshman Tahli Moore:
On Friday, August 30th, the JMU Softball Dukes and I shared our afternoon at Spotswood High School (Coach Dean’s former high school) participating in their Anti-Bullying Carnival. This was my first experience at a function like this with the team, which not only helped me feel more a part of the team, but understand the “American way” better at the same time. Being from Australia and having done a lot of community service and work with kids at home, I felt humbled that our first activity as a team was to volunteer at a community event. I believe that children learn more from the people in their community than they do from any other source. Having college girls helping out who are not that much older than some of the kids who attended the event, allows them to see themselves in the future (maybe even in JMU purple and gold one day too!!).
The carnival was a hit! It had all sorts of jumping castles, moon bounce, putt putt golf, bowling, laser tag, and many more activities, but my favorite was the water balloon volleyball, especially when the Duke Dog joined in to play. My teammates and I all had our assigned booths and did an amazing job making sure all the kids did the right things on the equipment, but also kept the events as fun as we could by teaching them how to throw a football, joining them down the slide, in the jumping castle, and clipping in and instructing them how to moon bounce. I received a few direct comments from parents of the attendees explaining how they really appreciated us being there and how great everyone was with the kids, which was a nice compliment.
I’m really appreciative that we had the chance to visit Coach Dean’s former high school; I know going back there and giving them our time really meant a lot to him and gave us a chance to see into his past a little bit as well. It also gave Coach Dean a chance to see how well we can connect with the community and volunteer with such a JMU Step Up attitude. I love giving back and to have an opportunity to do so at a carnival my first week in America…….I couldn’t have asked for anything more!!