'Cats give back to the community
Arizona women's basketball head coach Adia Barnes accomplished many things in her first year at Arizona on and off the court. Besides earning the most conference wins in the Pac-12 and finishing with the most wins since the 2011-12 season, the Wildcats served the greater community off court throughout the season.
Last year, the team was recognized for their time giving back and was awarded the Athletic Director’s Cup for Community Service; each student-athlete posted an average of 20.9 hours.
Ever since Barnes got to Arizona, she took pride in making sure her team is well-rounded beyond on-court skills.
“The first thing [community service] does is it gets fans to get to know your players, have some ownership and investment in the program,” Barnes said. “When I first came here, I took it personally and was really disappointed that I really never heard anything good from the program for the first three months. So for me I took it personal, thinking, 'these are really good kids.'”
Student-athletes have been known to make relationships with many non-profit organizations and are able to make an impact within a community through public speaking, visiting hospitals, putting on fundraisers and visiting schools.
Although most sports teams on campus volunteer and do community service, the women’s basketball team compiles a little more time into giving back. Last year, the team volunteered twice a week.
“Perception is one thing — perception is someone’s reality, but it wasn’t the reality I saw every day, so it was important for me to get players out there to meet people and get fans to know them,” Barnes said.
With Barnes’ upbringing from playing in college and then subsequently in the WNBA, she said she believes being involved is important, and continues to push her players to get exposed to different opportunities, including taking etiquette classes.
“My job as a coach is to prepare these women for life, because reality is not too many of them are going to play pro, so I’m preparing them for life and having them ready,” Barnes said.
The Wildcats hope to hold on to their community service award during the 2017-18 season, as the team has volunteered with the Catalina United Methodist Church, the Boys & Girls Club, GAP Ministries, the Community Food Bank, Diamond Children’s Medical Center and Tucson Clean & Beautiful, according to Arizona Athletic Director Dave Heeke in his Wildcat Wednesday post on the Arizona Athletics website.
“Giving out, giving back and serving is very important," Barnes said. "You start to appreciate more, learn to talk to people and make connections to the community. They [women’s basketball] enjoy doing it. It's stuff they are passionate about.”
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