TEAM kicks off the season right

WEBUTUCK — The fall sports season might be winding down, but it’s always the season for community service, and Webutuck High School’s Teens Encouraging Athletes to be Mentors (TEAM)  recently traveled to Astor Head Start in Millerton for a morning with the children there.

This is TEAM’s 10th year of service, explained advisor Mark Moren, who coaches the girls varsity soccer program at Webutuck and first organized the group. Any students in grades nine through 12 who participate on an athletic team this year are eligible. This year 42 students enlisted; officers include Katie Ruppel, president, and Alicia Flinn, vice president.

“It’s our way of showing how our athletes can have a positive effect on the community,� said Moren.

TEAM coordinates several events with Astor Head Start, and last Thursday, Oct. 29, the group hung out with the children at the day care, reading with them and working on arts and crafts projects, just in time for Halloween.

“The kids love it,� Moren said. “It’s an all-around positive for the community.�

“They were wonderful,� said Mariley Najdek, executive director at Astor Head Start. “It’s a really nice collaboration that we have with Webutuck. We went on a walk through town and it was the cutest thing. The kids are always very excited to have company.�

Flinn joined TEAM in the ninth grade, saying that she wanted to show the community that athletes can be good role models for other students. With a possible career in teaching ahead of her, the trips to Astor are her favorite TEAM events.

“Going there with the environment and the atmosphere is a lot of fun,� she added.

“I love the field trips and being with the kids,� said Ruppel, who has been with TEAM since seventh grade. “I think it’s a good way to show that athletes can be great role models.�

Heading to Astor before the trick-or-treating holiday is a staple of TEAM’s annual event schedule. Before Thanksgiving, the group will work with the food pantry at the Presbyterian church in town, and head back to Astor before Christmas to spend more time with the children.

“I think it’s a good thing to work on their self-esteem,� Moren added. “They know they’re helping out and not expecting anything back from it. It’s nice to see them in a noncompetitive situation. It’s about helping out the community and feeling like you’re giving back.�

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