Life + Arts

Local non-profit promotes education, sports

Cougar student-athletes who aim to make a difference in the lives of disadvantaged children through the community outreach program turn to All-N-One Little Coogs.

Chris Pilot, linebacker and sociology senior, has been involved with Little Coogs since his sophomore year and said the children are always excited to interact with the athletes because they see them as role models.’

‘A lot of kids look up to athletes as mentors because they see us play sports at an upper level. They respect us and want to be like us,’ Pilot said.

Pilot said his time working with children has garnered many memorable experiences and it is the little things, like receiving a Valentine’s Day card or a hand drawn picture of a car from his students, that make it worthwhile.’

Little Coogs was founded in 2001 in an effort to promote education, confidence and a sense of community.

‘The Little Coogs program recognizes the hard work that our students do on campus and gives them the opportunity to give those in the community hope for academic success,’ said outreach coordinator Jaron Barganier.

Little Coogs has developed into a full service outreach program that is sponsored by the non-profit organization, Be a Champion.

It has developed a strong partnership with numerous community groups, including the Ronald McDonald Foundation, Boys and Girls Club of Houston, Salvation Army, Red Cross and the Houston I.S.D.’

Student athletes have volunteered over 2000 hours per year of their time to activities such as reading incentive programs, hospital visits, youth tailgating parties, academic incentive programs and drug awareness.’ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘

During the 2008 football season, the Little Coogs program provided free tickets, food and t-shirts for 888 children per game.’ ‘

This year, the goals of the program are to provide amenities for 1200 students per football game and to take the database to 150 programs on a continual basis.

Over the years, an average of 100 student-athletes have been a part of the program. Many of them, including those who have gone professional, have maintained their ties to it, said Barganier.’ ‘

National Football League players, including Cleveland Browns guard Rex Hadnot, free agent offensive lineman Marquay Love, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Kevin Kolb, Detroit Lions wide receiver Brandon Middleton and Oakland Raiders cornerback Stanford Routt, are University alumni who keep in contact with students from the program when they come in town for a game.’ ‘

UH graduate and St. Louis Rams wide receiver Donnie Avery was recognized by the National Consortium for Academics and Sports last year for his outstanding outreach efforts with the Little Coogs program.’ Barganier said that Avery is ‘a good spirit’ who hasn’t changed since his second round draft in the NFL.

Barganier, a former offensive lineman and UH graduate, said that while the program is for the children, the athletes also gain unforgettable experiences.’
He said a memorable moment for him was when he was contacted by a student who told him he was the reason he chose to go to college.

The Little Coogs program has several events going on during weekdays and is always looking for volunteers who would like to give their time to the community.’

The program is open to students as well as athletes.’ For more information, contact Barganier at 713-743-9492.

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