New Orleans Privateers Gear Up for Thanksgiving, and Basketball Doubleheader
As Thanksgiving approaches, the New Orleans Privateers are out in the greater New Orleans community, showing service to the city, the university and local neighborhoods. Ongoing efforts to collect food for the city's largest food bank will culminate in a food collection at this weekend's basketball doubleheader, where the Privateers hope to see outstanding community support.
"Service is a key component of our Athletics program at the University of New Orleans," said UNO Director of Athletics Derek Morel. "We are committed to the comprehensive development of our student-athletes — and that means providing the resources, guidance and motivation for each of them to achieve success in the classroom, in competition and in the community. Our life skills and community outreach programs provides ideal opportunities for service learning and a deeper appreciation for the importance of leadership in our community."
For the last two Saturdays, student-athletes have traveled neighborhoods surrounding the University of New Orleans Lakefront campus on foot and in uniform, leaving notices and paper bags donated by Rouse's Supermarket at local residences one week, then returning the next to collect food donations for Second Harvest, the city's largest food bank, Morel said. As a thank-you, households that contributed received two free tickets to see the New Orleans Privateers men's basketball team take on Boise State in a nationally televised game this coming Saturday at Lakefront Arena.
A Full-Court Press
The 11 a.m. game, which will air on ESPN and Cox Sports TV, is the tip-off to a doubleheader, in which the women's basketball team faces off against Jacksonville State at 1 p.m. Visitors who bring food donations to Ramp One at Lakefront Arena will receive two free tickets to the game, said Assistant Athletic Director for Compliance Jacob Ludikowski.
Around campus, student organizations, faculty and staff are drumming up support, creating banners for a contest to be judged by UNO Men's Basketball Coach Mark Slessinger and Women's Basketball Coach Keeshawn Carter Davenport.
Prior to the Saturday morning game, Lagniappe Ministries will serve free pancakes to UNO students on the arena ramp.
The event, called "Pajamas, Pancakes and Privateers" encourages students to roll out of bed for the doubleheader, said Mirjam Sipos, a graduate assistant helping to coordinate the event.
The Thanksgiving food drive is the latest of a variety of community involvement efforts by the New Orleans Privateers.
Two weeks ago, Basketball Coach Mark Slessinger rappelled Benson Tower in honor of Louisiana Special Olympics and Sless's Stars, Special Olympians who work out with his team on occasion and stand with him on court prior to tip-off at home games.
UNO Baseball Coach Ron Maestri and his assistant coaches James Jurries, Blake Dean and Justin Garcia, served last week as celebrity members of the New Orleans branch of the Muscular Dystrophy Foundation's "Muscle Team." They joined a muscular dystrophy patient at a fundraiser dinner held at the Hyatt Hotel on Canal Street, no doubt regaling the child with jokes and tales of their many exciting experiences.
Maestri also brought some of his players to help out on Saturday at a batting clinic hosted at Southern University of New Orleans by the Major League Baseball Urban Youth Academy, which helps youth from southern Louisiana's underserved and urban communities advance in athletics and education.
Major League Baseball and the City of New Orleans unveiled the local MLB Urban Youth Academy in 2012 at the newly renovated Wesley Barrow Stadium on SUNO's campus in Pontchartrain Park. The New Orleans Privateers baseball team has played at Wesley Barrow in recent years while renovations to Maestri Field, named for Coach Maestri, on the University's East Campus are completed.
On Saturday, Maestri and the New Orleans Privateers baseball players assisted native New Orleanian and Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington conduct a batting clinic for the Urban Youth Academy at Wesley Barrow. On Monday, Maestri and assistant coaches participated in the MLB Urban Youth Academy's Second Annual Celebrity Golf Tournament in Louisiana, held at English Turn Golf Club.