Wingate Football gives back through 14th annual Special Olympics Field Day
8/28/2017 | Football
Wingate, N.C.----Wingate University graduate student Cornel Cheron (Miami, Fla.) is working with the Wingate University Sports Network this fall as an analyst. In addition, the 2016 All-SAC defensive back will provide updates and feature stories throughout the season. Following is his recap of the 14th annual Special Olympics Football Field Day.
SPECIAL OLYMPICS FOOTBALL FIELD DAY RECAP
The Wingate University Bulldog football team spent its Saturday morning hosting the 14th annual Special Olympics Football Field Day at the Graham Gill Field. Combined with the 350 WU faculty, staff and students participating in the United Way Day of Caring Saturday, over 500 Bulldogs spent at least two hours volunteering on this special day.
With only one week before their season opener against the Johnson C. Smith Golden Bulls, the Bulldogs solely had their attention on the Special Olympic athletes who came out for the morning. For 14 years, Wingate Football has hosted this event. Nothing has changed...it is always a day full of laughter and smiles. WU offensive coordinator Mike Long is responsible for putting the Special Olympics Football Field Day together. He values the partnership with this group and loves to see the smiles which are on every person's face.
The 2017 event had four stations in which all the participants could visit: quarterback throwing accuracy with head coach Joe Reich, kicking and returning (kicks) with the punters and kickers, speed and agility drills with wide receivers coach Ross Jenkins and a defensive tackling drill with defensive coordinator Rashaan Jordan.
"The Special Olympics Football Field Day is one of my favorite events of the season," Wingate redshirt junior defensive back Samuel Heda (Monroe, N.C.) says. "It's inspiring to see the positivity in all of the participants. Every year the men, women, boys and girls touch my heart in a very powerful way. I love being a part of an athletic organization which cares about giving back to the community and volunteering for events such as the Special Olympics."
Redshirt junior wide receiver Bryan Mitchell (Yorktown, Va.), also provided a brief reflection on what the Special Olympics Football Field Day means to the team. "It's an awesome opportunity for Wingate to give back to the community," Mitchell says. "The Special Olympians are so excited to come out here with us."
Mitchell also touched on how it's a symbiotic relationship between the Wingate football team and the Special Olympic athletes. "It's motivational to see them come out...the WU players enjoy the day and look forward to it every year."
Redshirt senior and All-SAC tight end Jake Jensen (Fayetteville, N.C.) has seen five Special Olympics Football Field Days at Wingate. Jensen enjoys the freshmen student-athletes getting involved through the first-year players' cheerleading squad...and how this adds to the atmosphere of the day for both the Special Olympians and the WU freshmen.
"I believe it's a solidarity thing with the freshmen," Jensen says. "They all know each other well, have been through camp...and now they have a chance to have some fun together, cheering for a good cause. I know the athletes who visit us appreciate it."
Jensen believes each class tries to outdo the one before with its creativity. "These freshmen guys are coordinating their own cheers," Jensen says. "It's really nice to see the enthusiasm behind this. We have enthused them (the freshmen) with many things, whether it's on or off the field. This way, we know in the future we have a team excited about what they are doing at Wingate."
This Special Olympics Football Field Day puts everyone in good spirits before the season opener, which occurs Saturday, Sept. 2. The Bulldogs will begin their 2017 campaign by traveling to Charlotte to face the Golden Bulls of Johnson C. Smith University. Game time is slated for 6 p.m.
Wingate University, consistently ranked as a top 10 "best value" in the South by U.S. News & World Report, serves more than 3,400 students on three campuses in Wingate, Charlotte and Hendersonville, N.C. Founded in 1896, the University offers 35 undergraduate majors, 35 minors, 12 career concentrations, nine pre-professional programs, master's degrees in accounting, business, education, physician assistant studies and sport management and doctorates in education, pharmacy and physical therapy.
With a 14 to 1 student/teacher ratio, Wingate students gain the tools and support needed to excel in academics and apply that learning toward an extraordinary career and life. To view current news, video and story ideas, visit www.youtube.com/wingateuniversity.
In addition to a robust intramural athletics program, Wingate student athletes compete in 22 NCAA Division II sports. The University has won the South Atlantic Conference Echols Athletic Excellence Award for the past 11 years. For more information, go to www.wingate.edu.
Wingate is first among NCAA Division II Academic All-America-producing colleges in the 2000's with 96 selections. Among North Carolina's colleges and universities, Wingate is number one in this millennium with 96 Academic All-America honorees. Wingate is tops among all SAC schools with 105 lifetime Academic All-America picks. For more information on WU athletics, go to www.wingatebulldogs.com.