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Student-Athletes Make their Mark with Civic Engagement in November

  • Thursday, Nov 19, 2020

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Madison, Wis. (November 19, 2020) – We see it all the time with our student-athletes. Our Eagle teams are constantly demonstrating the values of Edgewood College.

In this Year of Community, student-athletes are  doing their part in growing the community, both on campus and in the greater Madison area. That was especially true during the election season where various Eagle teams wanted to help make a difference and wanted to help in any way they could.

Both programs we talked to that got involved with the election process said the desire to do something came from the same event. The event was a Black Lives Matter rally, organized by students at Edgewood College. Several Eagles teams participated, and it made several student-athletes want to do even more.

One of those students who wanted to do more was Evan Oppermann, a senior on the Men’s Soccer program.

“It all started with the Black Live Matters Protest we had on campus where a lot of the athletes attended,” Oppermann said. “One of the speakers said this can't end here, and that stuck with us as a team. We wanted to find the next step we could take.”

So Oppermann and his team decided to reach out to the Women's Soccer program as well and they came up with an idea to set up tables just outside of Wingra Cafe on campus, where they would help with the process of voting registration. Those on campus could come by if they needed to register or had questions with the registration process and an Eagle would be there to help them through it all.

The Eagles took different shifts over three days to help with the voter registration. It was a great step and continued Oppermann’s and his teammates’ drive to continue doing more.

“We don't want to stop here,”  Oppermann said. “I'm not sure if we have the answer as to what's next but we would love to continue to take the steps in making a difference. There is a lot of division, so I'd love it if our team could find something to bring everyone back together. Hopefully we can start with Edgewood College and that will spread into the community.”

Community and making a difference were key themes with Oppermann and his goals with early voter registration, and they were once again central themes as the Edgewood College Baseball program decided to get involved with the election process as well.

Once again, the Eagles motivation stemmed from the protest in early September where they were encouraged to continue to make a difference. With an election coming up, Coach Al Brisack and his players decided they wanted to help on Election Day in Verona, the city where the Eagles home field is located.

“It all started after the protest and our coaches and leadership council approached us all about getting involved with voting,” said Eagles pitcher Dominic Rizzotto, who helped with absentee ballots coming in at the city hall location. “As a team we said we all wanted to take some action and give back to the community in times like this.”

So take action the Eagles did. The players worked at City Hall or the Library in Verona and helped with absentee ballots, sanitizing voting stations, serving as parking lot attendants, and much, much more. The Eagles split up into shifts and were available to help all throughout the day, serving the community the best they could.

The help the Eagles provided didn’t go unnoticed as they received several thanks and kind words from the city office, as well as other members of the community throughout the day. Alderperson Evan Touchett even posted a thank you his Facebook page recently, thanking the team.  “It was an absolute joy having the guys here on Election Day,” said Verona City Clerk Ellen Clark. “They showed great work ethic, kindness, and respect to us and our community and Edgewood College should be very proud of these fine young men.”

Serving the community is a big part of what Eagle athletics is all about, and the Baseball program strives to live up to those values, both at Edgewood College and in the greater Madison area.

“I've never been a part of a team like this,” said pitcher Kyle Jungers, who helped at the library location in Verona. “I think we've really created a community, and immersing ourselves in the community both on campus and off campus is extremely important.”

Community and making a difference were big reasons the Eagles programs decided to step up during the election season, but also they did so because they realized the importance of exercising your right to vote.

Leading up to Election Day various student-athletes submitted short videos explaining the importance of voting. Those videos can be seen on the Edgewood College Eagles Twitter and Instagram pages, but they spoke specifically why it was important for young people, college students specifically to vote. We saw the results of similar campaigns throughout the country as a record number of voters turned out to the polls in 2020.

“We live in a democracy and everyone if they have the right to vote should vote,” said Jungers. “We saw the races and how close they were. For us to be able to step in and help with the process was really important and it was a really good experience.”
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