By Michael Harvey
Being an NCAA student-athlete is demanding in terms of both time and energy. From practices to workouts and everything in between, it is usually difficult for these student-athletes to even have time to take care of the student part of their lives, much less any charitable work. While COVID-19 has been a nightmare for the country and college sports in general, it has presented a certain group of college athletes with an outstanding opportunity to give back to their community. As the fall semester continues to roll with the time-honored tradition of college football delayed, the Gardner-Webb football players aren’t taking this time off to just rest and relax. No sir, they’re trying to give back to their community in any way possible under the leadership of Head Coach Tre Lamb, who is in his first year as head of the program.
Lamb spoke with GWU-Today regarding some of the initiatives that he and the team are putting forth to continue to try to stay involved with the community during their downtime. “We’ve done community service projects every Saturday since we don’t have any games planned for this semester. Since we still have COVID-19 running rampant, we’ve broken our team up into several groups to follow CDC guidelines,” Lamb said. “Our goal is to just get our guys active within the community and get these service projects done little-by-little as we get our voice and availability out there during the pandemic.”
When discussing the importance of being active in Boiling Springs community, Lamb spoke highly about his players and the effort they put forth in all that they do. “We’ve got to understand that we want to do it for the right reasons, and I think my guys understand that,” Lamb said. “We don’t do it to just get publicity or monetary gain. Obviously, getting our name out there and getting more fans in the stands is great, but like everything else in our program we genuinely want to help people and help our guys become better people in the future following Gardner-Webb. Once we learn to win off the field, then the on the field winning will come.”
Some of the projects that Lamb and the football team have been a part of include GWU campus clean-up, along with building a house in Shelby with Habitat for Humanity. “As the semester progresses, we look forward to having our guys go out and continue to help Habitat for Humanity as they reach the conclusion of that project.” Lamb said.
Lamb and the team are always open to tackling new and more challenging service projects as the year goes on. “We’re always looking for any service work we can find. It helps us to get our name out there and we can also use it as a team building exercise for the guys,” he said.
When all is said and done, Coach Lamb wants to try his best to make these unprecedented times fun for the players. “We want to make it hard on these guys and test their overall skills, but in the end if you’re not enjoying football when you show up to practice then you’re not going to give your all and you’re not going to get as much out of it.” Lamb said. “That is why during and after practice we try to inject fun in being a GWU football player. On the field we have skills competitions such as relay racing and dodgeball. While off the field we’ve had Madden tournaments, golf competitions and we’re even reading a book as a team. All of that provides an extra layer to the brotherhood that is Gardner-Webb Football. That is why in our program we promote a want to attitude and not a have to attitude.”
Redshirt Junior defensive lineman Bobby Dales, Jr. shared his thoughts on the coaching staff’s recent initiative to stay involved within the community. “I believe Coach Lamb is doing a great job by keeping us active within the community as a team. In a time when we’re forced to be separated from each other, doing service projects with my teammates can help promote the core values that Gardner-Webb represents. It shows that our team is together in anything we do and that we can get the job done whether on the field or off.” Dales said. “The way our team has battled during the pandemic makes me proud to be a member of the Gardner-Webb football team. I am looking forward to joining my team on the field when the season finally kicks off.”
Recently, the team promoted on social media that every member was registered to vote in the upcoming election. This election has been regarded as one of the most important elections in recent history, and Lamb believes that it is important for the team to realize what is going on in the world of politics as they are close to becoming members of the working class. “We are experiencing trying times as a country. Everything is divisive on both sides and the coaching staff wanted to start an initiative where we see if everyone was registered to vote. They weren’t forced or persuaded in any way. They just wanted to do it and we’re glad that our guys respect the fact that someone fought for them to vote,” Lamb said.
While the 2020 Gardner-Webb season hasn’t been the ideal start for Lamb, he hopes to stay busy during this down time that COVID-19 has given us and get ready to go all out when football starts up. “Trying to stay as busy as possible is a good way to feel some normalcy with the way 2020 has gone. We’re still practicing and trying to maintain the mindset needed for when our games start.” Lamb said. “I think we have a pretty good football team and were excited. Overall, it’s been a very challenging eight months, but I’m enjoying it and staying positive.”
Lamb concluded with how he is trying to keep the team in good spirits. “What gets lost sometimes is the mental health of our players and coaches. The box we’re put in is uncomfortable for the entire team, myself included. This is basically a different world we’re living in that consists of no schedules and tons of new protocols to follow. My goal as coach right now is to keep them focused on school, their spiritual health, and the upcoming season.”