Athletes give back to the community


Grant Herbek

Many teams such as girl’s cross country take advantage of the popular non-profit organization here in Libertyville, Feed My Starving Children, where they pack food for developing nations.

Hearts pounding, food packing, sweat dripping, money raising, crowd cheering.

At Libertyville High School, most sports teams take their talents from the field or court into raising money, awareness and much more to help the less fortunate.

According to the LHS athletics policy, participating in a service project is not required, but most teams choose to do one together.  A lot of teams, such as boys soccer and the girls cross country team, choose to volunteer at Feed My Starving Children, which packs food for impoverished people in developing countries, such as Haiti, Nicaragua and the Philippines.

“It is encouraging and impactful to see all of these young athletes come out and pack food for the less fortunate,” said Nina Slidek, Libertyville’s Feed My Starving Children Site Manager, over the phone.

According the Slidek, multiple sports of all levels volunteer, packing thousands of boxes of food for the less fortunate. The athletes in Libertyville have a lot of advantages and Slidek believes that “if people don’t take their talents or advantages and help others, then they can go to waste.”

The girls basketball program does something a little different than most sports. During the year, the athletes and coaches try to find different organizations to raise money for; the past two years, the teams at all levels have raised money for the Lake County Haven. The Haven is a place for women and children to go for a secure place away from violence or other harms they may be facing.

Before that, the girls helped out at a more national level. “We had been doing work with major organizations, such as the American Heart Association, and we wanted to make it more local, so in those efforts, one of the families suggested looking into the Haven,” said Mr. Greg Pedersen, the Libertyville girls basketball head coach.

The athletes raised money for this cause by holding bake sales. In addition, the girls were taken around the facility and given different brochures to hand out to spread the word about the Haven and its job.

“Organized sports is an amazing thing for high school kids, and in those sports, you learn all kinds of life lessons,” Mr. Pedersen said. “[Giving back] helps the team make the community better and giving back is part of the deal of being a Libertyville athlete.”

In addition, the girls volleyball team held their annual “Dig Pink” game on Oct. 20, which raised money for stage four breast cancer research and awareness through the Side-Out Foundation. In the weeks prior to the game, the team raised money in many different ways. Some athletes ask their family to donate a certain amount of money for every ace, kill or dig they get.

“It was a very special game for us, since we got to play for something more than just a win in the record book,” expressed senior Katie Hay. The team raised around $5,000 for breast cancer research this year.

“I think it’s really cool in sports to play for a cause that is bigger than yourself, I think that it’s inspiring and it gets the game going, if you’re playing for something more,” said Hay. “The ability of giving back gets me excited, and I think the athletic programs do a really good job of it.”