Women’s soccer wins community service award

Dillan Schorfheide , Women's Soccer Reporter

The Eastern women’s soccer team won the 2016-2017 Eastern Panthers in the Community Award Sunday at the Eastern Illinois Athletics’ annual student-athlete picnic.

“The award is something the women’s team has taken great pride in,” Lara said. “They decided as a group last year that they were going to dedicate more time and effort in the community.”

The EPIC Cup competition was established in 2009 by the Eastern athletic department to promote student-athlete involvement in the community and the campus. It was also started to promote student-athletes to strive for overall personal development.

This personal development is something Director of Soccer Kiki Lara mentioned, saying, “…the award is symbolic of the diligent work that the women’s soccer team has focused on all year to better themselves and the program they represent.”

The women’s team did community work with different groups in the area last academic year.

These service projects include work at the Special Olympics Family Fest, the Chicago Kids School Supply Drive, volunteer hours at community nursing homes and work at local animal shelters.

Junior defender and midfielder Kate Olson said the Special Olympics was an awesome experience.

She said each player on the soccer team was partnered with a special olympic athlete and were buddies for the day. They got to compete for prizes and play games together.

“It was a humbling experience to share the bond between the love of sports with one another,” Olson said. “We got to know the athletes on a personal level that created friendships and it gave athletes an opportunity to live out their dreams of playing a sport.”

The Student Athlete Advisory Committee, made up of representatives from each sport, closely works with Eastern’s Student Community Service office throughout the year to develop opportunities for athletes to reach out and volunteer within the community.

This year is the first year the women’s soccer team has won the award during the Cup’s short existence. The men’s soccer team won the award last season.

Women’s soccer beat out two fellow women’s sports, the women’s basketball team and the volleyball team, for the award.

The women’s basketball team came in second with the volleyball team finishing third in the competition.

Each team in the EPIC competition is awarded points on a varying scale throughout the year based on community service, academic excellence and season accomplishments.

“We want to be champions of Eastern Illinois as an institution and represent our school, our athletic department and our soccer programs,” Lara said.

So far, women’s sports have dominated the list of winners for the EPIC award, winning the Cup six times out of the eight times it has been awarded. Both the softball and women’s swimming teams have won the award twice.

Last year, Eastern athletic teams combined to volunteer for more than 1,700 hours of community service.

The EPIC award is a nice compliment for the women’s team as it also started its fall season well.

The Panthers defeated IUPUI Friday 2-0 and tied with Indiana State Sunday 1-1.

Women’s soccer has two matches this weekend: first Friday at home against Green Bay, then Sunday the 27 against Milwaukee, a home game as well.

Dillan Schorfheide can be reacwhed at [email protected] or at 581-2812.