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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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From practice to philanthropy

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Texas A&M football players said they hope to show the Bryan-College Station community that they can do more than play the game of football as student athletes this Saturday.
Of the 15,000 Aggies serving at The Big Event this weekend, the football team will be among the masses, per Head Football Coach Mike Sherman’s request.
This past fall, Sherman approached Twin City Mission, a non-profit organization aimed at meeting the needs of the less fortunate, about getting his players involved in serving. Twin City Mission Director of Community Relations Ron Crozier said Sherman thought the team had become wrapped up in football and needed to be more involved in outside activities.
“[Sherman] thought his players were given so much in terms of notoriety as athletes in college that they needed to see how the other half lived,” he said.
Crozier said Sherman and his wife developed compassion for the homeless community when he coached in Green Bay and began working with shelters there.
“When he was coaching up there when the economy was really bad, he and his wife were well-settled, they felt like they had been so blessed. [They] have a deep heart for homeless people,” he said.
Sherman decided when he took the position of head coach at A&M that he would find a way to incorporate service into the team’s bonding activities once he had established himself as a coach.
Sherman opened up football practice to some children staying at Twin City Mission in the fall so the players could have a chance to interact with some of their youngest fans.
“[The team] made Christmas happen for the kids at the shelter. Seniors spoke to the kids, and the next four nights we had the entire football team visiting Twin City Missions,” Crozier said.
Football operations intern Michael Byrne said he has worked with the athletics department for nearly a year and has seen how the team serving together has impacted their dynamic.
“Overall, you can tell there’s a sense of camaraderie on the team. They realize there’s more to life than football,” he said.
Byrne said the people leading clothes and toy drives similar to the Christmas event are usually team captains and leaders on the field. Senior quarterback Jerrod Johnson played a lead role in serving the kids of Twin City Mission, he said.
“The sense of entitlement that other football players have from other schools, you don’t see that with this group of guys,” Byrne said.
Twin City Mission was formed in 1963, its original vision being to reach out to homeless families and individuals. During the 40 years it has thrived, its operations have expanded.
As an umbrella organization, Twin City has four main programs: homeless and housing, domestic violence, youth and family and donation and resale services.
Crozier said Sherman made it clear to him that he wants the football team’s affiliation with the non-profit to be long lasting.
“He shared that this wasn’t going to be a one-time media thing, not to draw attention to the team,” Crozier said.
Crozier said he has already planned tasks for the team to perform Saturday on behalf of The Big Event. The student athletes will wash windows, reseed flowerbeds, clean stockrooms, mop floors and serve clients at the facility immediately following their spring football practice Saturday morning, to extend the concept of team bonding beyond the football field.
“They’re going to give our property a facelift. It’s going to be a sea of maroon and an awesome day,” Crozier said.
Sophomore Bo Jackson, school health education major, said he is impressed by the message Sherman and the team are sending.
“I think it’s great to see the entire football team give back to the community. [It] gives so much to them year round, and it’s incredible to see Coach Sherman notice that and make it a point to give back,” Jackson said.
Byrne said other benefits to pairing the football team with an organization of Twin City Mission’s capacity are the number of players available to help and the ongoing help the organization needs.
“Going to a project site where there can only be six guys, a lot of people potentially stand around. When you have 115 guys working for one or two hours, that’s a lot of work,” he said.
Crozier said he urges students to participate in an event that is such an inherent part of the Aggie spirit and helps them put their thumbprint on College Station.
“If I had a chance to stand before the student body on the day of Big Event, my words would be simple: your fire has been lit; keep the fire burning. You’re making a difference.”

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