HILTON HEAD, S.C. – The University of Montevallo athletic department was awarded the first-ever SunTrust Connecting Communities Award at the Peach Belt Conference annual awards dinner at the annual meetings last week. Montevallo won for their inaugural “MOO Day” which brought local elementary school children to the campus for a full day of athletic-related activities. The award is sponsored by SunTrust Banks, Inc., an official partner of the Peach Belt Conference.
MOO Day – the Montevallo Official Olympics – allowed UM coaches and athletes, especially international athletes, to conduct an Olympic-style festival with basketball, soccer and track and field events. 125 students from Montevallo Elementary School were divided into six “countries” and participated in every event. Each country was partnered with UM student-athletes and staff to serve as coaches and evaluators. Over 20 Falcon student-athletes and 12 staff members coordinated the event.
“This was a way for them to put a face with the school and ultimately make a connection with a real Norwegian student-athlete, Irish student-athlete, etc.,” said Montevallo assistant athletic director Patricia Hughes. “We believe all children should have the opportunity to attend college and live the dream of achieving and obtaining a college degree but more importantly have an opportunity to be exposed to different cultures outside of their geographical radius and make exercise fun with a goal towards a healthier lifestyle.”
For the contests, each country was given their national flag and taught to cheer their teams in the native language. Staff members monitored all events and awarded bonus points for sportsmanship. Points were kept and tallied for each country.
After three and a half hours of competition, participants returned to BankTrust Arena, home of the Falcons, for a medal ceremony, which awarded gold, silver and bronze to the top three in each event. Additional awards were given to the most sportsmanlike country. This was followed by a group pizza picnic where the elementary school students were quizzed about their experiences and what they learned. The event was coordinated with the Montevallo Connection Organization. UM plans to make this an annual event.
In all, seven Peach Belt Conference schools submitted entries for the SunTrust Connecting Communities award. The award is designed to recognize efforts undertaken by PBC member institutions to reach out and be a partner with their local and regional communities. The award provides a cash prize to be given to the winning schools’ Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.