Eastern Illinois player takes aim at drunken drivers
Helping the youngest among us — University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, football student-athletes recently participated in the campaign to prevent shaken-baby syndrome. The campaign, called “Real Men Rock,” was organized by Orange County agencies and the UNC Hospital’s Beacon Child and Family program and was designed to teach men how to care for crying babies. National research on babies for whom treatment has been sought indicates that about 1,200-1,400 children have been shaken.
By Leilana McKindra
The NCAA News
Last season, Eastern Illinois University football wide receiver Micah Rucker led the Ohio Valley Conference in touchdowns. Now, Rucker is leading a personal crusade for a critical cause.
Rucker recently established a campus-based organization, Respect for Youth, to help spread the word about the dangers of drinking and driving. He founded the organization after his girlfriend, Rebecca Fissehatsion Yacob, was killed in a January 28 accident with a drunken driver.
“We’re trying to do whatever we can to stop another family from having to go through what we did,” he said. “I want to be able to help kids and spread the word of what happens when people drink and drive.”
Respect for Youth is open to all students and currently contains about 50 members. The entire Eastern Illinois football team and 80 other students wore RFY T-shirts on the first day of school and will continue to do so on game days. In addition, a keynote speaker drew about 900 people, including Panther student-athletes who were required to attend. The group plans to sponsor a RFY Day at an upcoming football game in which kids would attend free.
While Rucker and others are working to ensure the group’s long-term success at Eastern Illinois, he also plans to expand the endeavor into a foundation that will host large events to raise money and awareness for charitable organizations.
“Rebecca always preached to me to help, give back and do whatever I can,” said Rucker. “Everything I’m doing is something she would have been doing if she was alive.”
Rucker also helped establish Eastern Illinois’ chapter of UMADD, a campus-based organization related to Mothers Against Drunk Driving that focuses on preventing underage drinking, high-risk drinking and impaired driving.
Football clash for cash to be on a diamondWhen the two-time defending Division II champion Grand Valley State University football team takes on Wayne State University (Michigan) September 29, the Lakers will do so at a unique location.
The Lakers and Warriors will face off at Fifth Third Ballpark, home of the West Michigan Whitecaps minor-league baseball team, in what is believed to be one of just a handful of college football games played at a baseball stadium. The Emerald Bowl in San Francisco also is contested at a baseball stadium.
With six scheduled home games, Grand Valley State officials felt they could move one game into the Grand Rapids area to increase exposure and create additional fund-raising opportunities. Adding to the uniqueness of the event, both teams will feature throwback uniforms. Proceeds from the game will benefit Grand Rapids Public Schools.
Grand Valley State Athletics Director Tim Selgo said the idea came from Lakers Associate AD for Marketing Doug Lipinski. “We both went to a West Michigan game separately and came away thinking it would work,” Selgo said. As part of the festivities, Grand Valley plans to present a check for $10,000 for the city-wide student council.
Fifth Third Ballpark opened April 12, 1994, and holds about 10,000 people through box and reserve seating, luxury suites, deck/patio private areas and lawn/standing areas.
West Chester wins first NCAA women’s scrumWest Chester University topped Eastern Illinois University, 20-19, Seprtember 15 in the first contest between NCAA schools that sponsor varsity women’s rugby programs.
About 1,200 fans watched the action at Eastern Illinois’ Lakeside Field.
Eastern Illinois head coach Frank Graziano said the score of the game was secondary to the fact that it was played at all. “What a great way to start NCAA play,” said Graziano, who called the game a perfect example of how exciting rugby can be. “I hope other teams around the nation take note and join up at this level.”
Four schools — Eastern Illinois, West Chester, Bowdoin College and Southern Vermont University — currently sponsor women’s rugby as an NCAA varsity sport. USA Rugby estimates that about 350 collegiate women’s clubs exist.
Rugby was added to the NCAA’s list of emerging sports for women in 2002. NCAA emerging sports are intended to provide additional athletics opportunities to female student-athletes. To be considered for NCAA championship status, at least 40 institutions must sponsor the sport.