2006-07 season in review: Community service
Dr. Randa Ryan, the senior associate athletics director for student services, remembers a conversation with Dexter Pittman following the Texas men's basketball standout's visit to a Round Rock elementary school with five of his teammates.
"Dexter talked about what a great experience it was," Ryan began. "And what was neat for me is that he wasn't sure who had the greater experience -- the elementary school children or he and his teammates."
Likely, it was a tie.
"The school children look up to our young people," Ryan said. "But our young people are impacted, too. They realize the kind of platform they have. They realize the impression they have on younger children.
"They realize their responsibility being in the position of a student-athlete."
This is just one example of the kinds of community service work done by the UT student-athletes during the past school year.
"Fifteen hundred hours," Ryan said. "That's the time that our student-athletes devoted to the Austin community. Consider, too, that many of those hours were done by members of the tennis, golf, rowing, baseball and track and field teams, and those hours were done in the spring when those sports were in season.
"That further speaks to the dedication to community service that our student-athletes feel."
The entire softball team earned the Big 12 Community Champion award as UT's women's athletics top community service volunteers.
Brian Davis, the assistant athletics director for student affairs, pointed out how the Longhorn Leaders program continues to grow.
"It is flourishing," Davis said.
Evidence of such came during the recent Texas Legislative session when the Longhorn Leaders program was recognized in a joint Senate and House resolution sponsored by Rep. Mark Strama and Sen. Kirk Watson.
"Cory Redding, who was back in town from the Detroit Lions to continue working on his degree, was on the floor with Mack Brown, Kevin Durant and Katrina Robinson." Davis said. "Cory is a great example to our young guys. He served as a mentor to seventh and eighth graders at O'Henry Middle School in the spring.
"Colt McCoy would be doing something with an education or charity function every day, that's how many requests he receives. We make certain nothing interferes with class."
But that is about the only thing that keeps McCoy and teammates from being involved in community affairs.
Ryan credits the Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC) with the push for community service among the UT student-athlete population.
"It has been the focus of the Student-Athlete Advisory Council," she said. "They have done a great job in making it a priority. They appreciate that the student-athlete is a role model and they understand the need to take advantage of that to make a strong impression."
Ryan also sees another aspect of this community service work that is a challenge for the Longhorns.
"The work that all of our young people do in the community helps erode the perception -- or the misperception -- that many have of student-athletes," she explained. "Those with that misperception can see the dedication of our young people to making a difference because it is that important to them."