November 24, 2020

Community Outreach Remains As Strong As Ever


COLUMBUS, Ohio – Even as so much around the world has changed over the last seven months, one thing within the Ohio State Men’s Lacrosse program has remained the same: the team’s commitment to serving the community.

2nd & 7 is an organization which Buckeye Lacrosse has worked hand in hand with since the beginning. The mission of the 2nd & 7 Foundation is to promote reading by providing free books and positive role models to kids in need, while also encouraging young athletes of the community to pay it forward.

The 2nd & 7 Foundation was established in 1999 by former Ohio State football players Mike Vrabel, Luke Fickell and Ryan Miller. Following their collegiate careers, they wanted to continue the tradition of giving back to the community.

Fast forward to today, over 500,000 free Hog Mollies books written by the Foundation have been distributed to classrooms in 26 states through visits by high school and collegiate student-athletes. The Ohio State Men’s Lacrosse program has been an integral part of fulfilling the Foundation’s mission here in Columbus.

The members of the men’s lacrosse program volunteer to virtually visit with 2nd-grade students in the Columbus area each week. This fall, over 500 young readers have benefited from the team members’ virtual visits with 20 different classrooms. In addition to encouraging young readers to work hard in school, the student-athletes have introduced the sport of lacrosse to children who were not previously familiar with the game. They have also opened the 2nd-graders’ eyes to the possibility of going to college to fulfill their dreams.

“During a time when children need positive role models more than ever, the Ohio State Men’s Lacrosse team has eagerly stepped up to fill a need in our Columbus community. We are so proud of their efforts to help us ‘Tackle Illiteracy’,” said Janet Kassoff, senior program manager for the 2nd & 7 Foundation.

Ohio State Buckeyes

Perhaps the best part of the partnership between the lacrosse program and the 2nd and 7 Foundation is that the Buckeyes benefit from it just as much as the children. For Ohio State senior Evan Riss, it comes down to one word: excitement.

“I know the kids get excited every time they hear about a visit planned with our team, but that excitement goes both ways,” said Riss. “It allows us to take a step back and really focus on helping bring positive energy to the classes we visit. It’s hard to truly be present in the moment sometimes, but every time we get to work with 2nd & 7, our focus goes away from our schedule and towards ways in which we can help these kids.”

Riss, who received the team’s 2019 Community Service Award for his work with several local organizations, says the idea of giving back is one that is part of the culture both in the lacrosse program and the department as a whole.

“I think about everything the university and the city of Columbus has done for me to provide the best college experience I could ask for,” said Riss. “Knowing that, any opportunity to give back and show my gratitude I want to take advantage of. Also, understanding that the opportunity of being a Buckeye comes with the responsibility of giving back and making an impact in our community, my teammates, and I try to serve anyway we can. I love being able to fulfill that responsibility and represent my team in any way possible.”