RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Any college basketball player knows what happens once classes start for the fall semester – team-building activities, conditioning drills, and the start of official practice are all on the agenda. But the Felician College women's team has become aware that more is expected of them, and that September means the start of their annual community service efforts.
By the first day of practice, Felician team members had already ventured into their Rutherford, N.J., community twice to assist the citizens of the borough. The Golden Falcons helped lead a Family Zumba Night on Sept. 15, and two weeks later, returned for the Rutherford Recreation Department's 10th Annual Touch-A-Truck event.
Felician has made it a priority to assist in the Rutherford community ever since Steve Fagan was hired as the head coach seven years ago. The Borough of Rutherford is home to one of Felician's two Bergen County campuses, and the Rutherford campus houses, among other offices and amenities, the school's athletics department and residence halls. It is also home to the recently-refurbished Iviswold Castle.
"Coach Fagan always stresses that the people around us are a big part of any successes we have," said senior co-captain Ashley Morris (West Orange, N.J./West Orange). "The community helps make us what we are."
The Family Zumba Night was the first 2014-15 event of the annual Mayor's Wellness Campaign, and was held at Tamblyn Field Civic Center. The Golden Falcons helped local personal trainer Larrni Forte give lessons in Zumba – the dance-workout phenomenon – to special needs adults.
"We enjoyed it very much," said junior co-captain Eliana Scanlon (New York, N.Y./Oak Hill Academy [Va.]). "Something like that makes you realize that there's more going on in the world than school and basketball, and that life is more than just about yourself. People live different lives, and it's important for us to get out there and see that."
The Touch-A-Truck took place on Sept. 28 at Memorial Park. Borough youngsters ages 3-12 were allowed to climb on, sit in, and enjoy many of the trucks they experience in their everyday lives. The Felician players offered alternate activities to entertain the children, helping to run sack races, hula-hoop lessons, and pineapple bowling.
"These events show our new players, as well as the kids in Rutherford, that we are more than just basketball players," Morris said. "We are real, everyday people and we are involved."
The Zumba Night and Touch-a-Truck are two of many service projects that the Felician women's basketball team has planned. The Golden Falcons recently chaperoned the annual Rutherford Ragamuffin Parade, and will sponsor a holiday food drive at their Nov. 25 home game against Caldwell University. A breast cancer fundraiser and a Junior Falcon Day are also planned for the spring semester.