Posted on May 12, 2017 by Corey LeBlanc coreyleblanc@thecasket.ca

St. F.X. student-athletes continue to give back to the Antigonish community.

Representatives of the St. F.X. Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC) recently presented a cheque to Antigonish KidSport.

“I think we chose this one because it would stay with local youth, making sure that kids got opportunities to play – that was the biggest reason,” SAAC member Dylan Bell, of the X-Men football team, said of the charity selection.

Monies were raised for the donation during the annual X Athletes for Charity event, which brings together student-athletes with the broader community, especially youngsters.

 “I would say that the biggest hit was the slam dunk contest,” SAAC member Katlyn Walsh, of X-Women soccer, said. She noted several X-Men football players took on that challenge.  “The kids also got really involved with the relay race and the pudding eating contest with the athletes, which were really fun, as well.

“It was great to all come together and get some kids in and have some fun,” Walsh added.

For a decade, at the end of each varsity season, student-athletes come together for the multi-sport, interactive event, as part of an effort to raise funds for a local charity of organization. Krista McKenna, St. F.X. manager of varsity athletics and communication, estimated this year’s turnout was probably the highest in the history of the initiative.

“The student-athletes really got the word out better through avenues, such as social media,” she said, while noting local minor sport organizations, such as soccer and hockey, helped deliver the message.

“It’s great – they support us out on the field and the ice and the pitch all year, so to be able to give back and interact with them means a lot,” SAAC member Eric Locke, of X-Men hockey, said of X Athletes of Charity.

He also described raising money for KidSport as “tremendous.”

“There are a number of kids that benefit each year – kids who wouldn’t be able to participate in sports without the funding,” Marlene Melanson, Municipality of the County of Antigonish recreation director, said.

That local department has managed the Antigonish KidSport chapter which – as its national website describes – ‘gives the gift of sport,’ for several years. Melanson noted the local chapter has provided approximately $7,000 to $8,000 per year to Antigonish families.

 “Again, without it, these children would not be able to take part,” she said.

Melanson said “the bulk of our funding” goes to minor soccer and baseball programs.

 “We don’t have a lot of hockey because the Bonvie-MacDonald Rinks to Links (an annual charity golf tournament) takes care of a lot of those, but [KidSport] covers mostly all the other sports in the community,” she added.

Melanson reiterated that donations, such as these, “go to kids in this community.”

“So, it is wonderful what the athletes are doing,” she said.

X Athletes for Charity was one of the highlights of another busy and productive year for SAAC.

“We had a good group of student-athletes coming together and bringing up important issues from across campus and trying to represent athletes as best we could,” Locke said.