Caitlin Lamb, For The Miami Student

Miami University’s varsity athletes balance classes with practices, conditioning and long weekends traveling across the country for games, meets and competitions. Sometimes, even scheduling some sleep is difficult; yet somehow many have found precious time to give back to our community.

One such athlete was Cody Reichard. As a RedHawk hockey goalie, Reichard would visit Cincinnati Children’s Hospital to hang out with kid patients. Today, Reichard plays for the Orlando Solar Bears, but his legacy at Miami lives on through the organization he founded: Swoop’s Stoop.

Swoop’s Stoop originated during the 2010-11 hockey season, when the team began recognizing a Cincinnati Children’s child patient and their family at each home game. Soon, the team strengthened its relationship with Cincinnati Children’s and began visiting the hospital and fundraising. By the end of the 2011 school year, they raised over $16,000. The following year, senior football players Sam Olberding and DJ Brown took over Swoop’s Stoop’s reins when Reichard graduated. Thereafter, it continued to grow, but the university only recently recognized it as an official organization.

“We filed everything through The Hub this past week,” junior track and field runner Jessica Hoover said in an email interview squeezed in somewhere between a track meet in California, a full week of classes and practices.

A member of RedHawk Council and captain of Miami’s cross-country and track and field teams, Hoover said her interest in Swoop’s Stoop was immediate.

“John Strawser, who is a mentor to Cody [Reichard] and member of the Red & White Club, came to speak at a Redhawk Council meeting,” Hoover said. “He told us about Swoop’s Stoop and how they were hoping to make it a student organization on campus. I felt very moved by everything he said and decided immediately I wanted to be very involved.”

Saturday, eight to 12 Miami athletes will attend the official kick-off of Swoop’s Stoop at Cincinnati Children’s. According to Hoover, students will do crafts and hand out blankets, all to give the kids a break from the everyday struggles of living with serious illnesses.

“Long term, we will be sending student-athletes down once a month,” Hoover said. “We will be bringing kids and families to sporting events at Miami, starting a rooftop garden at the hospital, and funding other projects for the hospital as well through donations.”

The organization emphasizes the mutual benefit of these activities. As its mission statement reads, “This relationship provides members different life perspectives and the opportunity to inspire, and be inspired by the children they are interacting with.”

According to Hoover, Swoop’s Stoop has plans to involve student-athletes from other local colleges, like the University of Cincinnati or Xavier University, who have already expressed interest.

“I know that we can have a very big impact on these kids and that it will only grow from here,” Hoover said.