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Players pair with local kids for fun on game days
The Dartmouth football team has begun a new community outreach effort with the creation of the "Game Day Buddies" program. During each of this year's five home games, the team is hosting children from various groups in the Upper Valley and treating them to a day of activities and football.
The first children to be invited, for the team's home opener against Colgate on Sept. 20, were from the Big-Brother, Big Sister program waiting list at LISTEN (Lebanon In Service To Each Neighbor), a local multi-service community agency. Each of the participants was paired with a Dartmouth football player as a special game day buddy. The children donned a Dartmouth football jersey corresponding to the number of their game day buddy. They were given a facilities tour and a chance to speak with Head Coach John Lyons and to watch the team's highlight film. At halftime, the children were introduced at midfield and participated in the "Punt, Pass, and Kick" competition. After the game, they were guests of their game day buddy at the Friends of Dartmouth Football tent and had the opportunity to visit with the players and get autographs and pictures. A group photo of the participants and the team, autographed by the game day buddy, will be sent to each child as a keepsake of the day.
"I am very excited about having Game Day Buddies this year," said senior tight end Casey Cramer. "Because my dad was a football coach, I grew up around football and I understand just how much of a positive influence we, as older athletes, can be to these kids.
"Game Day Buddies will be a good opportunity to give back to the community and that is really what our program emphasizes," Cramer added. "We came up with this idea last season after a decision to get more involved in the Upper Valley and saw this as a great way to share what we love, which is football, in an environment that will be inspirational and also fun for these kids."
Game Day Buddies is part of a new advising collaboration between the Dartmouth College Athletic Department (DCAD) and Dartmouth's Tucker Foundation, with leadership from the CHAMPS program at DCAD (Challenging Athletes' Minds for Personal Success) and from the Jaeger Civic Internship at Tucker, named in honor of former Director of Athletics Richard Jaeger. Football Assistant Coach Adam Hollis approached Academic Counselor/CHAMPS Life Skills Coordinator Rob Morrissey to help get the project under way, and Morrissey arranged for current Jaeger Intern Jaclyn Strife '04 to coordinate the effort.
The Game Day Buddies program continues the football team's long-standing commitment to community service. During the past 10 years, the team has spoken to children at many local elementary schools, participated in the "Big Green Readers Program" and visited area hospitals, including the Children's Hospital at Dartmouth.
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