Fuelled by a desire to give everyone access to shoes, the UFV Cascades women’s basketball team is challenging much of the world’s norm with their latest fundraiser.
The team is collecting shoes for Soles4Souls, a nonprofit organization that collects and distributes shoes and clothing globally.
“Basically, they distribute the shoes to people in need in third world countries and in our own communities,” second-year forward Taylor Claggett explained.
Claggett, who is spearheading the fundraiser along with the help of the rest of the team, noted that the team has already collected more than half of their initial goal since starting in August.
“I had a goal of 1,000 and so far we’re at 600,” she said.
Claggett was inspired to start the fundraiser at UFV after participating in the Envision Financial Run for Water during high school.
This fundraiser is only one of many that the team has done and Claggett noted that Al Tuchscherer, the team’s head coach, encourages them to participate in as much community involvement as possible.
“He takes fundraising and school as seriously as basketball,” she said. “We know so many people in the community because of basketball, so we’re using basketball to help people.”
While Tuchscherer considers community involvement to be an important aspect of varsity sports, he explained that most of the time, the team organizes their fundraisers on their own.
“A lot of the fundraisers we have are just initiated by the girls, I don’t really assign them anything,” he said. “They’re things that they bring with them from their life experiences and whatnot. I just strongly encourage them to use their platform as a student athlete to give back to the community that they grew up in.”
Claggett finds that the extracurricular involvement has also improved her overall university experience.
“If we didn’t have any of this stuff and it was just school and basketball it wouldn’t be as rewarding,” she said. “Doing other things is way more rewarding than just doing good in the classroom or just being good at basketball. Helping people is more fulfilling.”
For Tuchscherer, it’s also a way to build relationships between the team.
“You build relationships deeper than just on the court and you’re working towards something off the court,” he said. “You’re organizing things together and supporting each other. It’s building our team.”
The team will be collecting shoes until their first home game on Nov. 4 against the Saskatchewan Huskies. Donations can be dropped off in the lobby of the Envision Athletic Centre.