FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) Universities often emphasize the "student" aspect of student athlete, ensuring they focus on the classroom as much as their sport. But, before they're students or athletes, they're people. University of Alaska Fairbanks Swim Coach Becca Weiland makes sure that her athletes are not only on top of their performance and academics, but that they are good people within the community as well.
"One of the beauties of being an NCAA Division II program is that we look at student athletes as so much more than being a student and an athlete," Weiland said. "So, part of the program here that we have at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, is that we want all of our student athletes to be successful in the classroom, and in my case, the pool deck, but also being successful out in the community, helping folks out wherever they can and just giving back."
On Thursday, the Nanook Swimmers visited North Pole Elementary School to spend time with the kids and to read to kindergartners. For athletes like Kaia Norbye, from Norway, this is something they may not get to experience elsewhere.
"I think for me it is mostly knowing that I can help people, and just knowing that we might be doing something for someone else that don't have the opportunity to do it themselves." Norbye said.
For both of UAF's Swim meets this young season, they have donated the admission fees from the event to different organizations. For the Blue and Gold Pentathlon, they contributed the fees to the Interior Center for Non-Violent Living. During their meet with San Diego State, the program collected donations and gave the proceeds of the event to the Fairbanks Rescue Mission. Weiland believes this will only benefit the athletes and the program for the future.
"Being thankful for what we have and then returning the favor back to the community because we have such awesome support from the community for UAF Athletics," Weiland said. "Something as simple as reading to kindergartners or helping out at the Fairbanks Rescue Mission serving thanksgiving meals, it is teaching them so much more about life skills and to be a humble person in the sense than there is more to this world than just school and academics, so just making the world a better place."
The Nanook Swimmers will hit the water again on October 18th when they host Azusa Pacific University for a two-day meet at the Patty Center Pool. Until then, they'll continue making us proud in and out of the pool.
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