Chowan hosts Community Night

Published 2:43 pm Monday, August 22, 2011

MURFREESBORO – Call it a “smash” – better than a tennis overhead.

Chowan University student-athletes, coaches and athletic administrators turned out Thursday at the university’s athletic fields to greet nearly a hundred Hawks fans – 50 of which were children – attending the fourth annual fall sports “Community Fun Night”.

The Chowan football team practiced on one field while on another the other fall sports teams – volleyball, men and women’s soccer and cross-country – mingled with the fans, participated in simulated drills, offered some friendly instruction, and even did some face-painting.

There were also hot dogs, chips, cookies and soft drinks available; and raffle giveaways of sports and CU paraphernalia.

“It’s a really good turnout,” said a smiling Chowan’s NCAA Compliance Director Tiffani-Dawn Sykes, who helped supervise fan giveaways for the evening. “I see some of my neighbors out here plus faculty and staff.”

The 2010 event was held indoors at the Helms Center, but this season the decision was made to move it back outdoors, where it was held in ’09.

“We had such an overwhelming attendance and interest for this year,” added Sykes, “so we moved it outside, and the weather has been just great.”

Chowan’s community involvement has also been nationally recognized by the NCAA. The university was recently named as a winner of the NCAA Division-II Community Engagement Award for their annual “Girls and Women in Sport Day.”

The award recognizes schools that “build bridges” with the communities in which they are located.  The athletic department received a $500.00 check from the NCAA for their work to keep this event a success in the Roanoke-Chowan area.

“Tying into that, having the community come out huge like this just brings a big smile to our faces,” said Deputy Athletics Director Meredith Long. “It’s a reciprocal relationship between Chowan and the community.

“We can’t survive without each other,” she added, “and this is just our way of saying ‘thank-you’.”

Back on the field at the conclusion of practice the football team joined in with the fun and festivities, including a game of cornhole with the fans.

Thursday also marked two weeks until the Chowan football kicks off their season-opener on September 1 against CIAA-member, Livingstone College at 6 p.m. under the lights at Garrison Stadium.

Other openers include the volleyball team hosting the two-day Janet Collins Invitational tournament at the Helms Center beginning September 2, while the men’s soccer team hosts St. Andrew’s at noon on September 3.

The women’s soccer team and cross-country team open their seasons the same weekend on the road.

“As we and the community interact,” said Athletics Director Dennis Helsel, “it’s our way of giving back; and to see these eyes light up is kind of wonderful.

“Anytime we can get people on this campus,” he added, “it bodes well for the future; and that’s something the NCAA prides itself in.”