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College of the Canyons Athletic Programs Teach Community Commitment
December, 2017 - Issue #159
College of the Canyons football players Kamal Muhammad, Darryn Blackshere and Jumpei Dobashi join a group of athletes and coaches from Special Olympics Southern California (SOSC) for a team break, during the recent FUNdamentals Football Camp and
College of the Canyons football players Kamal Muhammad, Darryn Blackshere and Jumpei Dobashi join a group of athletes and coaches from Special Olympics Southern California (SOSC) for a team break, during the recent FUNdamentals Football Camp and 'Pun

College of the Canyons defensive lineman Christian Lofton-Grady is a force to be reckoned with at 6'5" and 335 pounds. But as he walked the turf at Cougar Stadium during the recent FUNdamentals Football Camp and "Punt, Pass, Kick" Challenge organized by Special Olympics Southern California and the Los Angeles Rams, the imposing figure simply could not contain his ear-to-ear smile.

"This is definitely one of the best experiences I have ever had," said Lofton-Grady, before tweeting out photos of himself posing with a group of new friends in the Special Olympics athletes he had met just moments earlier.

Lofton-Grady was part of a group of 22 COC football student-athletes who volunteered to serve as on-field instructors for the skills clinic portion of the event which included more than 50 Special Olympics athletes of various ages.

With fans looking on from the stands and music echoing through the Cougar Stadium PA system, both groups of athletes spread out across the turf to tackle several NFL inspired clinic stations focused on passing, catching, kicking, punting, blocking and pass rushing - mixed in with a bit of impromptu end zone celebrating and a whole lot of hugs and high fives.

While the memories those student-athletes made volunteering for Special Olympics Southern California won't soon be forgotten, the notion of community service is nothing new to the COC Athletics department. Each semester, coaches and student-athletes from the college's 17 intercollegiate athletic programs participate in a variety of community service related events and activities.

A few days after the Special Olympics event, student-athletes from the COC cross country and track & field programs volunteered to work at the Domestic Violence Center of Santa Clarita Purple Walk of Strength 5K held on the college's Valencia campus. Meanwhile, just a few feet away, the COC baseball program was partnering with the Playa Vista Orioles youth baseball organization to host a free skills clinic, with several current MLB players stepping in to serve as on-field instructors.

"College of the Canyons is an institution that reaches out to support our community whenever possible. These types of events and partnerships are exactly what COC is about," said Chuck Lyon, Dean of Physical Education, Kinesiology, Athletics & Athletic Director at the college. "The FUNdamentals Football Camp in particular presented an awesome way for us to support Special Olympics Southern California, while providing a valuable learning opportunity for our student-athletes."

In the weeks and months ahead COC student-athletes will continue to serve this community by participating in an array of events and activities. "We mold students and we mold athletes. But most importantly we want to mold individuals who will become involved in their communities," said COC men's and women's golf coach Gary Peterson.

The COC men's basketball program will also be continuing its annual "Kougars for Kids" skills clinic campaign this season, which will include coach and player visits to Rancho Pico Junior High and several Newhall School District locations. In the spring, the COC men's soccer program will continue its annual day-long soccer skills clinic for sixth-graders at McGrath Elementary. "These partnerships are how we demonstrate community," said COC men's soccer head coach Phil Marcellin. "They allow our current student-athletes an opportunity to see themselves as role models to the younger kids in this community and provide our future student-athletes the opportunity to make a personal connection to College of the Canyons Athletics."
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