When a faculty member at Norman Binkley Elementary reached out to Trevecca women’s basketball coach Chad Hibdon with an idea, Hibdon quickly discovered it was one he and the team couldn’t pass up.

School officials wanted to start a girls’ running club, but wanted to partner with a university and student-athletes who could facilitate the club and serve as role models.

“Obviously we are always looking for community service involvement,” Hibdon said. “Especially if it has something to do with fitness because playing a sport and being fit is important to what we do. We’re excited to help out the children in the school and to just be a part of that.”

To make sure that the team stays committed to both their basketball schedule and the running club, members of the Trevecca women’s basketball team grouped themselves into teams of six. The teams rotate each week, with each group spending a couple Wednesday afternoons facilitating the club at the south Nashville school every month.

The club isn’t just about running and a healthy lifestyle. It’s also focused on helping girls develop a positive body image and empowering them to be strong women.

“It wasn’t all just about running and fitness,” Hibdon said. “There was a good level of interaction between our student-athletes and the elementary girls.”

According to Hannah Eaglen, a freshman guard and volunteer for the running club, being able to encourage the girls in the club wasn’t hard. Mostly, it meant forming relationships with the girls and being available to answer questions and talk.

“[There were a lot of] open discussions between us and the girls,” Eaglen said. “We were able to help the girls realize how much dedication it takes to be an athlete.”

Hibdon believes the team was a good fit to help the girls at Norman Binkley.

“I think our program has a vision, and it’s parallel with the vision of Trevecca,” said Hibdon. “We are going to be servants, and we are going to serve our Lord and the community.

“That’s what the school [Norman Binkley] needed: people, especially young women, who are positive and full of energy and who are obedient to serve,” Hibdon continued. “I believe that’s why they reached out to us.”

Hibdon wasn’t the only one who was excited about an opportunity to serve the Nashville community. Shanice Cason, one of the team’s assistant coaches, recalls that the athletes were happy to volunteer for the club.

“The girls were willing to go, there was no hesitation,” Cason says. “Coach presented it to the team as an opportunity to help others, and a majority of them handed over the times they would be available.”

The time that Eaglen spends with the girls in the club is filled with funny moments.

“They have the best attitudes, and they are hilarious,” she said. “Just some of the questions they ask are just really goofy, and it makes it fun to hang out with them.”

The running club may be focused on teaching valuable lessons to the young girls at Norman Binkley, but they aren’t the only ones who’ve learned from the experience.

“I think any kind of community service and working with other people is going to help you grow your character,” Eaglen said. “We also did the volunteering in the beginning of the season, so I think it was a bonding experience for us as well.”

Cason hopes that the running club will help teach the girls how to do the hard work of working a job, whether that’s being an athlete, a good student or a quality employee.

“I’m hoping that they learn that it is always going to be a job,” she said. “It’s not going to be easy and when working your job you have to put in the effort. I’m hoping that they see that and the responsibility it takes to be an athlete.”

The running club met every Wednesday, October 19-December 14, 2016, then restarted March 1. The team will continue to facilitate the club through April 26, culminating with a 5K run in the community.