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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Athletes become artists at Aggie Idol

Student-athletes of UC Davis want to make one thing clear: their talents aren’t restricted to the field. And equally important to the score at the end of the game is giving back to the Davis community.

Student-athletes will show off their non-athletic skills and charitable spirit tonight at Aggie Idol, a talent show organized by the UC Davis Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). Proceeds from the show, held at Freeborn Hall at 7:30 p.m., will be donated to Team Davis, a local non-profit organization that provides athletic and recreational opportunities for people with developmental, cognitive and physical disabilities.

Though the specifics of the show will remain a secret until the event, past acts have ranged from dancing and playing instruments to even performing original comedy. The only requirement is that each performance must include at least one student-athlete.

A panel of judges, whose identities will also remain a secret until the event, will determine the winning solo and group acts. SAAC Officer Jonathan Peterson will emcee the event along with fellow officer Laura Sunday.

“A lot of people put student-athletes in a category. But this shows that they do other stuff besides sports. We have a comic side to us and can perform musical instruments,” said Peterson, a senior human development major and member of the UC Davis cross country team. “It should have a lot of energy.”

Aggie Idol, which was also held in 2007, 2008 and 2009, has earned a total of more than $3,800 for charities Heifer International, Special Olympics Northern California and Invisible Children.

The event was cancelled last year due to cuts to the athletic department budget that resulted in the elimination of four sports, said director of athletic academic advising Michelle Roppeau. The costs of holding Aggie Idol are funded entirely by ticket sales, with the remaining profit donated to charity.

“It was an incredibly hard quarter and our SAAC officers and team representatives talked about whether they wanted to continue and hold the show and they decided to cancel it,” said Roppeau in an e-mail interview.

With the show back on this year, recruiting athletes to perform in the show has been surprisingly easy, Roppeau and Radke said. Students from every undergraduate college at UC Davis will be performing 19 unique acts. Though the acts remain top secret, Radke and Peterson hinted that the audience can look forward to performances by entire teams, as well as a special guest performance.

“High-ability students at UC Davis often have multiple talents, interests and abilities that extend beyond the walls of the classroom, and our student-athletes are no different,” Roppeau said. “It’s easy to recruit performers because we have student-athletes with various talents as well as student-athletes blessed with creativity and a great sense of humor.”

Peterson and fellow SAAC Officer Lauren Radke chose to support Team Davis in an effort to involve the local community.

“We see [Team Davis] out there doing stuff after our practice is over, so we know they’re really passionate about being athletic as well,” said Radke, a junior human development major and member of the UC Davis track and field team. “We wanted to support them because we see them out there training hard.”

Team Davis began as a local Special Olympics team and became a non-profit organization in 2006 as programs and interest expanded. Local athletes, many of them UC Davis students, offer practices, clinics and tournaments for a variety of sports. Members can also attend community events, such as a garden project and dances.

Team Davis President Robin Dewey said volunteers run the organization and funds raised are used to purchase equipment such as uniforms, soccer goals and storage sheds, as well as rent practice spaces and hire lifeguards.

“We are so excited. We feel like the coolest thing has happened,” Dewey said. “We are so appreciative to live in Davis because of the services from the city and the connections we’ve made with the students and professors on campus. We don’t take it for granted.”

Coaches for Team Davis must be athletes themselves, which gives participants the opportunity to see what student-athletes – or “professional athletes,” as Team Davis knows them – can do.

Members of the UC Davis football, swimming and soccer teams have held clinics and the Cal Aggie Marching Band-Uh! recently performed at the Team Davis annual banquet.

“Our group sees the athletes and band members on campus as celebrities,” Dewey said. “[Team Davis members] bring an amazing amount of gifts, and people who have gotten involved with us end up feeling like their lives have changed, too.”

To learn more about Team Davis, visit http://www.dcn.davis.ca.us/go/olympics/. Tickets for Aggie Idol are available for $10 at the Freeborn Hall box office.

ERIN MIGDOL can be reached at features@theaggie.org.

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