LUBBOCK, Texas – Since his hire at Texas Tech, Matt Wells has stressed the Red Raiders will be heavily involved in the community.
That initiative was so important, in fact, that one of his first hires was a former teammate of his in Troy Kema as the football program’s Associate Athletics Director for player development and student-athlete services to work closely with the J.T. and Margaret Talkington Leadership Academy staff on integrating the Red Raiders with the Lubbock community.
In only a year, that priority has already paid off as Texas Tech ranked 10th nationally and third among power-five football programs in community service hours logged, according to a recent survey of 60 athletics departments who utilize the Helper Helper app.
“I’m proud of how our student-athletes have embraced helping so many in our community,” Wells said. “Troy and our leadership academy staff do a great job in engaging our players and finding different organizations that are in need of volunteers or even simply a friendly face. This will continue to be a priority for us as a program each and every year.”
Prior to each home football game during the regular season, Kema and the leadership academy staff take 10-20 student-athletes each Friday to a different community event, whether that is reading to local elementary students or visiting a local children’s hospital.
Wells and his staff created the Special Spectator program early in his tenure as part of the Red and Black Giveback Community engagement initiative. The program rewards a local student in the community who has experienced a tragic life event, normally of a physical nature, providing a two-day experience at a football practice, a tour of the Football Training Facility and Sports Performance Center as well as an on-field recognition prior to the start of a selected home game.
Additionally, the Red Raiders have volunteered hours at the Ronald McDonald House, the South Plains Food Bank and Texas Boys Ranch among other organizations over the course of the last year. As a team, the football program accounted for 850 hours of community service this past year alone.
As a department, Texas Tech Athletics ranked 30th among Division-I programs in the poll, a strong accomplishment under the leadership academy’s guidance.
“Our commitment to the Lubbock community and surrounding areas is part of what it means to be a Fearless Champion,” said Amy Heard, Senior Associate Athletics Director for the leadership academy. “Where we can, our student-athletes are enjoying being able to make a small impact in the lives of others.”
The leadership academy has worked to prioritized not only tracking departmental community service hours over the past year but also increasing and continuing the commitment to outreach and engagement.