We're unified through sports

Erik Price

The Pac-12 student-athletes participated in a community service project at the Redwood Family House, installing an irrigation system and planting grass for a playground.

Beavers, Bears, Bruins, Buffs, Cardinal, Cougars, Ducks, Huskies, Sun Devils, Utes, and Wildcats. While this might sound like a Trojan’s worst nightmare, this past weekend I wasn’t among rivals. I was surrounded by family: the Pac-12 family.

I had the remarkable opportunity to be a part of our All-Pac-12 Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC) meeting. Two representatives from each school’s SAAC traveled to San Francisco to meet at the Pac-12 headquarters to learn more about the conference, give back to the community and share and exchange ideas.

During the time we spent together, I made an important discovery. All of the student-athletes shared a common goal as we strived to better our respective athletic communities. Together we can foster immense social change.

Although each school in the Pac-12 has its own version of a Student-Athlete Advisory Council, we share the same goals and visions. All of the Pac-12 SAAC groups organize community service events, career panels and nutrition events, and attend “go-to” games of fellow sports in order to enrich the full student-athlete experience. In fact, over half of us choose to call our go-to games “Golden Games.”

What is unique from one school to another is how we organize our groups to accomplish these different events and the wide range of charities and causes we support. The Wildcats shared their Arizona Movember efforts to raise money and awareness for prostate and testicular cancer. Now, with the help of the Wildcats we initiated our own Movember movement at USC, and it’s currently in full swing.

As a break from our meetings, we undertook a community service project at the Redwood Family House. The house is a transitional shelter for homeless families in Redwood City, Calif., that provides a safe place for them to stay and rebuild their lives after the adversity that led them to lose their homes.

We spent the day installing an irrigation system and planting grass for a children’s play area. As athletes, we love action, so it was a fun opportunity to get our hands dirty, digging and planting grass to give back to the local community.

The most memorable moment of the entire trip was when we played sports with the children who lived at the Redwood Family House. What really unified us as a Pac-12 family over the weekend was sports. All of the representatives are from different backgrounds and different schools, but together we shared the same love, drive, respect, devotion, teamwork and perseverance that we’ve learned from participating in sports.

Whether athletics provide an avenue to college, an outlet of some sort, a distraction, plain exercise, or even a smile for those kids, we were happy to play and to bring sports into their lives. Having the ability to share our passion for sports with those families was a bonding experience that brought all of the Pac-12 representatives together and truly uncapped the power that our teamwork has to be a vehicle of great change.