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MLK service taking athletes beyond lacrosse

Clinton, South Carolina  – While the majority of the Presbyterian College student body won’t arrive back on campus until this Friday, Jan. 22, the women of the PC lacrosse team returned last week and spent their Martin Luther King Day on Monday raking leaves into large tarps at a rural Presbyterian church near Clinton.

“The pandemic is providing some unique challenges, but service to the community in a safe environment is something that fulfills the college motto, ‘While We Live, We Serve,’” said lacrosse coach Eric Clakeley, “and as a team, we have a commitment to benefit the community where we live.”

The team is made up of 24 women, and 22 of them had driven out Hwy. 56 to Bethany Presbyterian where the women hauled tarps of leaves deeper into the wooded property.

Assistant coach KerriAnn Barlage said the women’s lacrosse team has always been committed to at least one team service day each season, but last spring’s national events increased their desire to do more, according to senior team captain Sarah Marshall.

“Especially when the social justice issues arose last spring, we wanted to do something more than just posting on Instagram and saying something. We wanted to actually do something in our community and make a difference with our actions,” Marshall said. “Our coach has always made it a big point to go out together and do community service as a team. We have a lot of able bodies and MLK Day was a good time to do it. Spreading love and not hate.”

For Marshall, an Atlanta native, it doesn’t matter that the team is out at the church’s rural setting, with their work seen only by the pastor, Herb Codington, and a family and children who were providing hot drinks and water.

“You don’t do good works and show kindness just because other people are going to see it,” Marshall said. “You do it because that’s what we’re supposed to do to help each other.”

There are only three freshman on the team but Marshall said, for the younger team members, serving the community sets an important example.

“I think it’s cool to set the precedent that, yes, we play lacrosse, and, yes, we are a Division I program, but lacrosse doesn’t last forever. It’s important to instill that in the younger underclassmen who still have so much of their college careers,” Marshall said. “You won’t be able to play lacrosse forever but you’ll always be part of a community. And your actions and your voice and what you do is impactful.”

The Student Volunteer Services MLK Day of Service has been an integral part of PC’s service to Laurens County for many years, but the school opted to delay in-person classes until next week, and aside from the practicing athletes, most students weren’t yet back on campus.

While some groups on campus are working in the community as their schedules allow, Rev. Racquel Gill in the Religious Life department said the college’s official MLK Day of Service will be held Saturday, Jan. 30, when students will be spread out assisting programs in safe settings across the county, such as working with the Laurens County Trails Association, the Clinton Community Garden and other service opportunities.

On Wednesday, Jan. 27, county residents are invited to join the college’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Virtual Convocation. Set for Wednesday, Jan. 27, the 6:30 p.m. program will be available via Zoom.

Titled “Post 2020: Where Do We Go From Here? Chaos or Community,” it features guest panelists Dr. Adolphus Belk, professor of political science at Winthrop University, and Rev. Dr. Malanie C. Jones, instructor of ethics, theology and culture at Union Presbyterian Seminary.

For more information on linking into the Zoom convocation, contact Dr. Booker Ingram at btingram@presby.edu.

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