Getting up early on weekends may not be the typical college student’s idea of fun. But for a group of Virginia Tech fraternity brothers who are coaching fifth and sixth graders in basketball, it’s a rewarding way to give back to their community. 

“I just wish that more people could have the experience we're having,” said Ross Tudor of Richmond, Va., a senior majoring in communication in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. “Some people might look at it and say, ‘I'm not getting up at 9 a.m. every weekend to go coach a bunch of kids I don't know.’ But that also means they don't get to see these kids' faces light up when they score, they don't get to see how proud the parents are of their kids, they don't get to see the kids improving right in front of their eyes. I absolutely love it.”

This is Tudor’s second year coaching for Blacksburg Recreation League basketball and several of his brothers at Pi Kappa Alpha have joined him. Tudor was recruited by his roommate, Joshua Parcell of Blacksburg, a senior also majoring in communication, who works as a referee for the league. 

“A few weeks before the season started he asked me if I would be interested in coaching a team, and I jumped all over it. And then this year I recruited a bunch of my friends to coach as well,” said Tudor.

“In some cases the kids seem to relate more to the younger coaches,” said Adam Lloyd, athletic supervisor for the Town of Blacksburg Parks and Recreation. “We are very grateful to have the students volunteer their time to our leagues. They make sure the kids are having fun and learning in a safe environment.”

“Giving to your community is a great thing,” said Robert Buck of Fairfax Station, Va., a senior majoring in management in the Pamplin College of Business. “I enjoy doing service in my community, especially when it has to do with a sport. Every kid needs to have sports in their lives. When someone who doesn't usually play well does, scores, makes a great pass, or learns something new – that is a proud moment.”

“I hope they learn the values of hard work and team work,” said Derek Baker of Great Falls, Va., a junior majoring in finance in the Pamplin College of Business. “But most importantly I hope they learn how basketball can be related to life. When things aren’t going your way, always hold your head up and keep working on getting better. I’m proud of how far all the kids have come not only in basketball skills, but their attentiveness and respect.”

“It teaches you a lot about patience,” said Cory Cumbia of Richmond, a junior majoring in finance. Cumbia admitted he was nervous at first. “You just have to take a deep breath and realize that it is for fun. The kids love it when we get in and play with them. And getting positive feedback from the parents, knowing that they are putting their trust in us, helps fight the negative stereotypes of fraternities.”

“Sometimes you may start getting frustrated if the kids are goofing off, or aren't focused, but we've all learned to be patient with them. We were 11 once too, and I'm sure we did our fair share of misbehaving,” Tudor said. “I'm surprised by how much the parents like us. At first I thought the parents might be a little bit reserved about college kids they don't know coaching their children, but they seem to really trust us. ”

“The brothers worked really hard to make practice fun and fulfilling for the players,” said Gregory Fansler, associate director of alumni relations and Pi Kappa Alpha faculty advisor. “They have witnessed a positive change in attitudes which has made a lasting impression on both the kids’ and brothers’ lives.”

Taylor Kewer of Springfield, Va., a junior majoring in sociology in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, said, “It definitely makes you remember when you were a kid. Coaching has made me realize how much I am like my dad. He was always my coach when I was growing up, and this experience makes me appreciate him more. I call him after every game we play and tell him what happened and what I’m trying. It also gives us a sense of community with Blacksburg, by getting involved with the people who live here, not just Virginia Tech.”

Established in 1873, Pi Kappa Alpha Epsilon chapter was the first fraternity to be organized at Virginia Tech and is the oldest student organization on campus. It was re-chartered in 1970 and, according to Tom Tillar, vice president for alumni relations and Pi Kappa Alpha faculty advisor, the Pikes started two of the very first Greek system-wide community service traditions on Virginia Tech’s campus – the Greek Bike Race in the 1970s and the Greek Marathon for Muscular Dystrophy in the 1980s.

Last semester, Pi Kappa Alpha logged more than 3,500 hours of community service as a brotherhood. Their efforts benefitted the Blacksburg Fire Department, the Virginia Tech Student Rescue Squad, and Big Brothers. They took part in Relay for Life, the Big Event, and Hokie Day in Richmond. 

The Fighting Gravity group, made up of Virginia Tech Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity members, also helped in philanthropic fund raising events in recent years, for both Pikes and other campus Greek organizations. 

“Community service has a been a priority of the Pike Chapter here for more than 40 years, which has translated into their commitment when becoming alumni toward service to the university and to other community organizations and causes,” said Tillar.

 

 

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