In 1986, less than a year before his death, Coach Woody Hayes delivered a commencement address to the graduating class of Ohio State. In his speech, as in many before it, the late coach urged everyone to be charitable and generous. In quoting Ralf Waldo Emerson, Hayes preached “you can pay back only seldom, but you can always pay forward.” This idea has since been echoed strongly by all of Ohio State’s 36 varsity sports but none more than the Buckeye men’s lacrosse team.
“It’s awesome helping out and spending time with little kids,” Corey Bentine, a senior midfielder from Columbus, said. “Seeing in their eyes just how much it means to them when athletes come and hang out with them for a few hours is really something special for us.”
Bentine is just one of the 46 men’s lacrosse players to volunteer this year at places including the Ronald McDonald House and the Central Ohio Food Bank. As of April 22, the team has recorded more than 340 hours of community service, answering a call from head coach Nick Myers.
But the call hasn’t just been heard by the team’s players, the first-year coaching staff has also made an effort to give back to the community. Assistant coach Bill Katsaros has volunteered at 10 events this year, giving 16 hours of his time to local food banks, the Ronald McDonald House and tutoring children.
Senior Brian Lalley has noticed volunteering does more than just help people in need; it builds team chemistry as well.
“I think once you go out and do something like tutoring young kids who maybe aren’t as fortunate as us, it makes us realize how fortune we really are. As a team, it brings us closer together and makes us realize we really are making a difference as well.”
At this year’s Buckeyethon, a 14-hour dance marathon in aid of Nationwide Children’s Hospital and the Children’s Miracle Network, nearly every player spent time dancing the night away, including a shift from Myers.
Both on and off the field, Ohio State’s men’s lacrosse team puts forth an attitude of compassion and commitment. Senior Doug Ruhnke sees volunteering the same way: “It’s just a lot of people working together to get something done. It’s a great feeling because you feel like you’ve accomplished a lot as a team.”
By David Oglethorpe, Ohio State Athletics Communications