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Many residents of Central Kentucky have become very familiar with the varsity basketball players from St. Catharine College. And they have done so without ever attending a game.
The familiarity has stemmed from the many community service ventures of the Patriot women and men coached by Lena Bramblett and J.T. Burton. Within the last year the young players have painted houses, volunteered at local festivals, salvaged homes slated to be condemned, visited veterans centers and worked with elementary school students.
“These projects really help the players get to know each other better,” said Bramblett. “And we do that while helping other people, which makes it more meaningful.”
The women’s team has, indeed, embarked on many meaningful projects within the last year. Before the Habitat for Humanity house was relocated from campus property, the Patriots thoroughly scrubbed the house inside and out. They also cleaned up the property of a Lebanon resident who faced eviction due to the unkempt premises. Both of those projects were part of the team’s partnership with the Fuller Center for Housing, headed locally by Steve Hale.
“They did a wonderful job,” said Hale. “The lot was a wilderness, and they jumped right in and tackled the job.”
Still another job they tackled along with the Fuller Center was the refurbishing of a house in Washington County that was in disrepair. That project was orchestrated by Dr. Vicki Guthrie, dean of students at St. Catharine.
“The team was eager to be of assistance and ready to work when we arrived at the home,” said Guthrie. “The women were patient when we encountered roadblocks and ready to interject some fun and lightheartedness. It was a great bonding experience for the team, and they seemed gratified to have been able to make things a little easier by lending a helping hand.”
The men’s team at St. Catharine has also lent a hand locally and regionally. The “Patriot Pals” endeavor takes Burton’s players to St. Dominic Elementary School twice a month to work with the young students. Burton sees it as a winning proposition for all involved.
“Sometimes kids this age are shy and reluctant to do things like that,” Burton said. “But once they got into it, they love it and the students they worked with love it when the players visit. They read with them, help them with projects or to get started on their homework.”
Burton’s bunch is planning to extend the Patriot Pals program to Washington County Elementary and New Haven Elementary in Nelson County later this month. “These players are so good with the kids. It is just fun to watch them interact,” said Burton.
At the start of the season the Patriots interacted with a much different group. While playing in a tournament at Asbury College in Wilmore, the team visited the Thomson-Hood Veterans Center.
“It was great,” beamed Burton. “The residents have asked about when we are coming back. It especially meant a lot to players like Adam Decker and Arthur Latham whose families served in the military.”
As for basketball, the Patriot men and women are halfway through the current season. As with any team, their sites are set on winning all remaining games. But no matter how the record turns out, they have made fans of many people who have never seen them play.