JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – ETSU student-athletes enjoyed a great night of spreading holiday cheer to local children Tuesday night, while maintaining one of ETSU’s fondest traditions.
The ETSU Department of Intercollegiate Athletics celebrated the 17th anniversary of the “A Buccaneer Christmas” event in the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center and saw a turnout of 60 children from Johnson City Coalition for Kids.
ETSU Director of Athletic Facilities/Operations Lee Morrow has coordinated the event every year since it began in 1999. Morrow said he enjoys planning the event as the turnout has increased nearly every year.
“This is one of the largest group to have come,” Morrow said. “It’s evolved so much over the years. This is by far the most fun project I work on all year, and I get a lot of satisfaction out of helping an excellent cause.”
Athletes from the ETSU baseball, football, cheerleading and dance teams helped facilitate the event, as children enjoyed mingling with the student-athletes with stations set up to participate in different games such as Wiffle ball, soccer, football, duck-duck-goose, basketball and tumbling.
“The kids really enjoy coming to the dome because number one, it’s an adventure for them,” Morrow said. “Number two, they love our athletes. Our athletes really enjoy being there, and the children look up to them like heroes.”
The children also opened gifts and spent time with Santa Claus, who was escorted into the dome by the ETSU marching band’s drum line. Local businessman Clarence Mabe donated the gifts for the event and has partnered with ETSU for nearly a decade in this endeavor.
Senior cheerleader Jasmine Seal, who has participated in the event for four years, said “A Buccaneer Christmas” is something she looks forward to every year.
“It’s my favorite thing we do as cheerleaders,” Seal said. “I’ve seen some of these kids at our games, and they adore us so much because we wear that “E” on our chest. Just for us to take some time out of our busy week to play with the kids is special.”
Senior outfielder Hunter Parker said this event helps put into perspective how privileged he is to be a student-athlete.
“This is my second year doing this,” Parker said. “It’s really great being around kids that might be less fortunate and give back to them. We’re blessed as student-athletes, and this is a reminder for us how fortunate we are. Being able to give back is really special.”
The ETSU Department of Intercollegiate Athletics takes pride in its community service activities and strives for 100 percent participation from its student-athletes, coaches and administrators throughout the year.