By Corbin McGuire
Student-athletes don’t have a lot of extra time or money to donate. What they do have an abundant amount of is T-shirts.
It’s a big reason why K-State Athletics’ Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) partnered with One Shirt, One Body, an organization founded in 2015 at Notre Dame with a mission to unite student-athletes and school communities through donations of excess T-shirts.
Wildcats across all sports collectively gathered 556 T-shirts this year to donate, more than one per student-athlete.
“There’s not a ton of things we have an overabundance of but it’s something we have and can give back. I thought that was really cool,” K-State cross country/track and field’s Ethan Powell said. “A lot of the guys on our team were, like, ‘Shoot, I don’t have a ton of money, but I have five or six of these T-shirts that I’ve gotten over the years.’ I thought that was kind of cool that it was something that we have a lot of and that it can be valuable to other people.”
“I think as student-athletes, a lot of the times we want to give back but don’t know how,” K-State rowing senior Kennedy Felice added. “So, when we had this opportunity come up, where it was being able to take K-State clothes and items that we had that maybe we don’t necessarily need, and we could put them to good use.”
This week, K-State’s student-athletes started delivering the donations.
First, they stopped by a sixth-grade graduation ceremony at the Manhattan Boys and Girls Club. More than a handful of student-athletes from six different sports attended and held a panel discussion about the importance of education, with each Wildcat offering advice and answering questions. At the end, they handed out T-shirts they once wore to those they hoped to inspire.
“We’re people they look up to and they want to be like someday,” Felice said. “Knowing that you can do something that’s as simple as us just going through our old stuff and being able to turn it into something meaningful and positive, it seemed like a really good way for us to not only give back to the community but really establish those roots, so kids know that they are worth something, that they can reach that next level and that we definitely see that potential in them. So, we wanted to give them something that could show them that directly.”
K-State also donated shirts to a younger group involved with the Boys and Girls Club at Lee Elementary School in Manhattan. At both stops, the Wildcats left with a rewarding feeling.
“It really makes you appreciate what you get here,” K-State women’s golf freshman Briony Bayles said. “Giving something back makes you realize how much we actually get as K-State athletes. It really makes you grateful for what you do, and I hope it inspires them for the future to take on sports or to be able to just stick in it at school.”
The T-shirt, Felice said, is meant to represent more than just a free piece of clothing. It reinforces an idea that “college is the goal” but it also takes hard work to get there.
“You can’t reach those goals and those fun things without all that hard work and determination to make something of yourself,” she said. “The T-shirt is just this symbolic reminder of all the potential that they have but also realizing they’re going to have to put the work and the time in to be able to get to that next level and accomplish those big dreams and goals that we hope they have.”
Source: Kansas State Sports