Gophers hold mini sports clinic for YMCA

Minnesota athletes coached campers in various sports Tuesday at the Bierman track.

University of Minnesota athletes changed roles this Tuesday to act as coaches for children from Youth University âÄî a summer camp for inner-city kids who are underexposed to post-secondary options. Held at Bierman track, 12 Gophers hosted a mini sports clinic Tuesday to coach fifth- and seventh-graders in several sports. The clinic was run entirely by athletes, with Ben Kampf , Sara Clancy and Dannie Skrove leading the event. âÄúThis program is with kids who might not otherwise get a chance to try these sports,âÄù Rachel McKessock , coordinator of Student-Athlete Welfare , said. âÄúItâÄôs a really good chance for them to get to try some new sports and to learn from some of the best out there.âÄù Campers rotated through 20-minute stations where they learned the basics about soccer, track and softball. Kampf, a former Minnesota track athlete, said keeping the stations short and giving the campers a variety of activities is important in keeping the campers focused and entertained. YMCA camp coordinator Ellie Purdy said the campers enjoy being active and learning the sports. They also take interest in learning how the Gopher athletes got where they are today and how they can get to that point, too. âÄúThe purpose of Youth University is to expose kids to different aspects of college life,âÄù Purdy said. âÄúAn important part of student life is athletics, and we want to expose them to student-athletes who are passionate about their sports.âÄù Softball sophomore Skrove said itâÄôs easy to tell that the children look up to them as athletes. Purdy agreed, saying that the campers most enjoy being able to interact with the Gophers. Former Gophers runner Kampf, who was a main leader during the event, said the excitement runs both ways. âÄúI think a lot of the athletes that do this really find some satisfaction knowing these kids look up to you,âÄù Kampf said. âÄúYou walk down campus and youâÄôre just a normal person, but then you go to these events and the kids just think youâÄôre the greatest.âÄù Being student-athletes at Minnesota also allows them to offer the campers a different perspective that an older, one-on-one coach might not be able to, senior soccer player Clancy said. âÄúWeâÄôve been in their position, so we can maybe be a better role model for them âÄî someone a little closer in age that they can look up to rather than a regular coach,âÄù Clancy said. Though Clancy and the other volunteers are still athletes, she said it is different being on the coaching side of things for once. âÄúYouâÄôre running it, so you have to make sure youâÄôre organized, and you have to plan it out well,âÄù Clancy said. âÄúIf something isnâÄôt going well you have to transition into something else, whereas if youâÄôre playing, everything is kind of done for you.âÄù The responsibilities that student-athletes take on during this clinic give them a better idea of what goes into coaching to those with little experience. âÄúIt just goes to show how responsible our student-athletes are,âÄù McKessock said. âÄúItâÄôs good for our student-athletes to understand that theyâÄôve been given a gift of athletic ability and that to give back to the community that supports them so much is really important.âÄù Gopher athletes will also be busy with additional community service events this year at the University, including the Hope Day Festival on Sept. 13. Hope Kids is dedicated to children with life-threatening illnesses, and Minnesota has hosted many volunteer events for the program.