Men's lacrosse bikes, moves books, does good
"Every day we aren't offering services, that's a day a kid may not get a book he or she needs. You never know what day a child is going to have that epiphany as a reader, especially when they're in such a really critical time at life."
For Sarah Sugden of the Waterville Public Library, the benefits of the Colby men's lacrosse team's 156-mile fund raising bike ride from the Hill to Bates, Bowdoin and back are much more than monetary.
"This was my first library; I grew up here, and [the rest of the library staff and I] have a vision for what a new library can do," Sugden said.
Sugden has been working on the renovation of the library for five years, and said that the lacrosse team's efforts to benefit the library have "reinvigorated us." On Tuesday, October 27, players spent the hours between 5:45 a.m. and 1 p.m. moving over 7000 books from the children's room in the basement of the library to the first floor. This has allowed for the renovation of the children's room to begin.
Without a workforce as big and physically capable as the lacrosse team, moving the thousands of books from the basement to the first floor would have taken weeks. "We really wanted to take advantage of what [the players] were able to provide us," Sugden said. "They were wonderful and very professional. In a word: lovely."
When they weren't moving books, players took turns riding portions of the route between the three colleges. Each teammate rode roughly eight miles, with some members, like captain Max Weiss '10, doubling up and riding 15 miles.
Head Coach Jonathan Thompson rode the most, however, logging over 22 miles by day's end. "I'm not going to let the guys do something that I'm not going to do myself," Thompson said.
The team averaged 18 miles per hour, which Thompson said was "no easy feat, especially coming up those mountains in western Maine."
Players reached out to family and friends to collect sponsors for their ride. The team has not collected all the donations yet, so the exact figure that it raised is still unknown. Once the funds are in, some of the money will go toward renovation costs and new furnishings for the library.
The rest of the money will continue to pay dividends for years, going toward creating afterschool youth programs, as well as a business and career center.
"Right now we're really focusing on how can we partner with other organizations, how can we offer services [to the greater Waterville community]," Sugden said.
Last January, the lacrosse team ran 106 miles from Colby to Bowdoin and back to raise money for the Alpha 1/25 Marine Regimen from Maine, that finished up its tour of duty in Iraq last spring. Thompson said the team knew they wanted to replicate how physically demanding last year's run was for the library fundraiser.
At first, the team considered simply repeating the run to Bowdoin, but decided instead to get creative again this year, Thompson said, because "the novelty of last year was one of the attractions."
The team wanted its ride to be more challenging, too. The players did not take the most direct route between the three schools.
"We didn't want to just do 130 miles after running 105 last year. We extended [the ride] through the mountains to make it more physically demanding and mentally challenging," Thompson said.
"This year was a lot more difficult because there were so many more parts to what we were doing. There's a lot more to take into account and organize," Weiss said.
The coaching staff took care of organizing most of the event and transporting riders to and from exchange points.
For Greg McKillop '13, the bike ride was his first major event with the lacrosse team. "The whole experience was very exciting. Everyone had to do [his] part to make it work, and there were a lot of parts. It was awesome to see the way the whole team stepped up to the challenge for such a great cause."
The lacrosse team's other annual community service initiative, the Bench Press for Pulmonary Fibrosis, will take place in January.
Thompson expects his team's civic engagement will only grow. "It's becoming contagious," he said, "and we're excited to continue to lead by example and give back to the community."