Every year, incoming Mercyhurst students take part in a day of service to help others in the Erie community, which is in line with the vision of the university.
Mercyhurst University seeks to be a leading higher educational institution that integrates excellence in the liberal arts, professional and career-path programs, and service to regional and world communities.
The Laker football team has embodied this vision and did their share of service days this semester. Players have volunteered their time with Erie’s youth, put on a football clinic for the Boys & Girls club, read to students at Lincoln Elementary for Read Across America, served as security for the NCAA Super Region wrestling tournament, and helped with the Special Olympics Bowl-a-thon.
Hometown product and Mercyhurst Prep alum, redshirt sophomore Thomas Higgins III and teammates also volunteer at the Holy Rosary Church Christmas party every year.
“I do that every year, too, because I grew up a block away and that’s the neighborhood I grew up in, so it’s a big deal to me,” said Higgins.
“I always told myself that if I ever made it big I would come back and try and help Erie out. I don’t have a lot of money or status in the community, but this (football) gives me a platform to do something.”
Not only is the community benefiting from the Lakers volunteering, but the team is gaining an opportunity to mesh with one another, a crucial element for success on the field.
“Community service projects definitely give guys a chance to not only go hang out with who they’re helping, but a chance to hang out together and bond together,” said Higgins. “If anyone has doubts about community service, I would say give it a try because it’s an opportunity to experience something that you probably don’t experience every day.”
Higgins’ roommate and fellow Iron Man award winner for the football team, junior running back Drew Robinson, has also been involved in the community as one of the players to read to Lincoln Elementary School students.
Higgins and Robinson received the Iron Man award the past two seasons for their commitment to excellence and being the hardest working individuals on the team.
“People are always watching in a way. Some people may call it self-centered, but in my mind I have people counting on me. I feel like I’m in a position where my team needs me, I’m representing for my family, the school. I feel like I have people counting on me and I don’t want to let them down,” Robinson said.
Having achieved such recognition, both players have regard for the importance of the football team in the community and what volunteering means to personal development and cohesion on the field.
“It’s a humbling experience I think. I never thought growing up that I’d be someone that someone would want to look up to. We went and talked to the kids and read Dr. Seuss books wearing our jerseys and they looked at us like we were super heroes,” said Robinson
“It takes a special type of person to take time out of their day to help other kids out who may be less fortunate or just need a person to talk to. We can relate on a personal level with certain kids and that brings everyone together. It lets you know that it’s not just about football; it’s about being a team, and being a family.”