Sunday, May 30, 2010
IU Basketball Players Thrive At Doing The Right Thing
Maurice Creek doesn’t buy the concept that athletes aren’t role models and shouldn’t try to positively impact the lives of others. Indiana’s sophomore guard understands the responsibilities that come from being a Hoosier; that his high profile image should benefit rather than distract or embarrass or anger.
In other words, be more like Peyton Manning and less like Tiger Woods.
“I take it seriously,” Creek said. “Athletes are role models. Young people look up to athletes every day. And when you make them feel good, it makes you feel good.”
Creek was one of four IU basketball players -- guard Jordan Hulls and forwards Bobby Capobianco and Derek Elston were the others -- doing their part recently while touring Bloomington’s Middle Way House, a facility that services victims of violence.
“Little kids are looking at you every day,” Hulls said. “People are watching you. You have to set a good example. To come here and do this is rewarding and a blessing.”
What exactly did the Hoosiers do? They visited the New Wings Community Partnership Project, which is a multi-use center at the old Coca-Cola Bottling Company plant. It will provide jobs, housing, childcare and youth programs. The players learned about all the services Middle Way House provides – including 24/7 crisis prevention and emergency shelter.
“It’s rewarding for us to have an impact in the community,” Capobianco said. “We’ve had multiple opportunities to do things like this. Not every guy has done every one. It’s more of a team effort. If there are more of these, we’re more than willing to do it.”
Project coordinator Cynthia Brubaker met with Joani Crean, the wife of IU coach Tom Crean, to direct the players during the tour.
“This is about doing the right thing,” forward Derek Elston said. “I’ve never been in an environment like this. It makes you feel like a better person when you do something like this.”
Interacting in the community (Creek also recently talked at a Bloomington elementary school) is among the ways Crean wants his playing to give back to those who support the program. The biggest way to give back, of course, is through basketball. Players are spending most of their off-season time preparing for what they hope is a turnaround season. That includes taking advantage of the recently opened Cook Hall.
IU won six games in Crean’s first season, 10 in his second and is looking for more. Creek is well on his way to a full recovery from knee surgery that cost him his Big Ten season.. A winning record and a postseason opportunity this year would not be mission impossible.
Still, for a few hours on a sun-splashed late May afternoon, basketball took second billing to community service.
“Any time you can brighten someone’s day,” Capobianco said, “it’s a good day.”
And so it was.