Once a year, Eastern Mennonite University gets all of its student-athletes together in one place. Royals Night, as it is called, was on August 31 this year, as this year’s Royals and Lady Royals got an introduction for what it means to be a student-athlete at EMU.
Athletic Director Dave King led the evening.
“This has become a tradition that helps us get the school year off to a good start,” said King. “It is really exciting to have all the athletes together and sense the anticipation and hope of a new year. It provides freshmen athletes an opportunity to understand that they are part of something much larger than their own team. It also gives us an opportunity to connect the athletic department to the rest of the university.”
Ron Stoltzfus, the Faculty Athletics Representative, was one of the speakers to the approximately 200 student-athletes. EMU President Loren Swartzendruber also spoke.
“It is a humbling experience to recognize how many lives we, as athletic staff and an entire campus community, will have the opportunity to impact through our relationships with them on and off the field,” King said afterwards. “Gathering together helps build a bond between players on each team as well as between other sports teams.”
King introduced each coach and staff person to the students after recognizing the players by team. As part of his talk, he helped student-athletes understand the expectations the school has for them, and he also introduced “The Royal Way,” a brief set of guidelines for EMU athletes.
Daniel Leake from Special Olympics Virginia also talked to the gathering. The NCAA and D-III are making specific efforts to join with Special Olympics around the country, and Leake pointed out that EMU and the rest of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference have been leading the way in building those relationships already.
“It was great to have Daniel, the local coordinator, with us to represent their programming and talk about ways in which our athletes can become involved,” King said. “While the men’s basketball teams have been involved in the past, I am excited about getting additional athletes and teams involved locally.”
Andy Richter (Perkasie, PA/Christopher Dock), a senior of the baseball team, spoke to his peers about EMU’s chapter of Fellowship of Christian Athletes and then also closed the program with a prayer of dedication for the year.
After the students were each given an EMU t-shirt, a group photo was taken with President Swartzendruber and everyone enjoyed pizza.
King said the photo was a fitting way to end the night.
“We hope that the photo will be a constant reminder to athletes, parents, faculty and staff of the great potential these students bring to the school year,” he said.