One local non-profit gives Bruin athletes an opportunity to inspire the next generation.
Know Greater Heroes (KGH) gives Salt Lake Community College student-athletes an opportunity to serve as role models for young schoolchildren. Athletes involved with KGH travel to local elementary schools and teach children to eat right, be active and avoid drugs and alcohol.
KGH at SLCC
Assistant baseball coach Derek Waddoups and assistant men’s basketball coach Paul Marble are the lead instructors for KGH. Waddoups has been involved with the program for eight years and takes student-athletes through a leadership in sport psychology training course for 12 weeks in the fall.
After completing the course, the student-athletes then travel around to elementary schools throughout Utah and put on assemblies promoting a healthy lifestyle, a drug-free life and leadership from within.
“The mission of [KGH] is to get into the community and help these kids see that they can go to college and improve their lives through being healthy and staying away from drugs,” Waddoups says. “We also want them to realize that that they can be their own hero, so that they can make a difference in the community, individually and in their families.”
KGH goes to school
Bruin athletes, also known as “heroes” in the KGH program, gathered together March 1 at Stansbury Elementary School in West Valley City. The heroes excitedly ran around inside the gymnasium, dancing and giving high-fives to students as they filed in for the assembly.
Energy and laughter filled the gymnasium within minutes as student-athletes, teachers and 500 elementary students all joined together in a dance party, performing the Macarena and the electric slide and singing along to “Who let the dogs out?”
The heroes went on to enthusiastically teach students how to follow the KGH affirmation statement, which reads, “1: Be Active, 2: Fuel Up and 3: Be Your Own Hero.”
As the assembly came to a close, SLCC basketball player Tanner Newbold led the students in a cheer. 500 ecstatic elementary students joined together and chanted, “Be a force for good, defy the odds, set a new standard, believe in yourself” and loudly shouted “step up, step up, step up!”
KGH not only promotes a healthy lifestyle through elementary school assemblies, but has also worked with programs like the YMCA and the Boys and Girls Club afterschool program as well.
Modern Women Financial sponsors KGH and provides jump ropes for each elementary student, which is over 20,000 students per year. They also provide T-shirts and wristbands that work as free passes to all SLCC sporting events, and posters.
KGH has also partnered with the Dairy Council and is looking to spread their program nationwide.
Bruins become better people
Newbold says the things he learned in the KGH program has helped him personally.
“The first semester of KGH was focused on helping us [student athletes] change and be better people, so that we could really help these kids as best as we can,” he says. “I really applied the same principles that we teach the kids now to my own life. KGH helps me and builds a desire to go out and make a difference in children like this.”
Coach Waddoups also agreed that KGH has affected his life personally.
“KGH has made me a better individual, father and husband because I understand people better. I’ve become a better person, which translates into how I coach, how I teach and how I communicate.”
Making a difference
Newbold knows the time he spends with children during a KGH assmebly could change their lives.
“The thing I love about [Know Greater Heroes] is that it’s one individual at a time,” he explains. “Obviously we speak to big groups of kids, but you never know what each individual kid is thinking and what they are going through in their life … you never know what kind of hardships they are experiencing. So even if it’s just a couple kids that we are helping out, that’s what matters.”
Bruin cheerleader Payden Ramirez also recognizes the value of being involved.
“It’s important for kids to have a good role model,” she says. “If they are looking up to the wrong person they are going to turn out just like that.”
Changing for the positive
Newbold thinks it matters modern-day role models strive to set good examples.
“Athletes these days are a big role model to kids because of what they do, so it’s important to set that good example,” he says. “Unfortunately as a society we don’t do the best job at doing that sometimes, but every little thing that we do counts and can make a difference.”
Waddoups says that watching how the student athletes grow and serve in leadership positions makes him believe in society.
“The media wants to push the bad, and I don’t care. For everything bad going on in the world, there is more good happening. I can guarantee it, because I’ve seen it in Know Greater Heroes. We just need to promote the good things more so kids can hear that and believe in themselves more.”