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Keeping children active during the outbreak

Katie Smith has always valued the importance of community.

Smith credits relationships developed in her hometown of Logan, Ohio, and at Ohio State for fostering a 17-year professional career in which she earned three Olympic gold medals, four league championships, and enshrinement in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

“Who I am is because of where I grew up, and the people in my life,” said Smith, an assistant coach with the WNBA Minnesota Lynx. “When I went to Ohio State, it became another community that supported me, and always has, in so many ways and so many areas. I’ve been lucky. I’ve had a lot of great people in my life. I always love to give back.”

Years of nurtured connections recently led Smith back to her hometown of Logan (population of 7,000), where she put in action her desire to help others during the COVID-19 outbreak.

“You just want to do what you can,” said Smith, the 1996 Big Ten MVP as a senior.

Smith joined members of Ohio State LiFESports (Learning in Fitness and Education through Sports) and the Lindy Infante Foundation in handing out sports equipment to families from Logan – about 50 miles southeast of Columbus – and the surrounding area of Hocking County.

Families pick up groceries.

The Logan-Hocking School District has provided food for community members on a weekly basis during the coronavirus outbreak.

Families came to the front of Logan High School, Smith’s alma mater, to pick up food that has been provided weekly by the Logan-Hocking School District during the outbreak. They didn’t know their hometown hero was going to be there.

“I was just smiling for two hours straight as we watched families drive up and be so surprised to see Katie Smith here,” said Dawn Anderson-Butcher, a professor at Ohio State’s College of Social Work and the executive director for teaching/learning and research for the LiFEsports initiative.

“I’m so blown away by her leadership and ability to give back. She has a magnetic personality that brings people in and brings people joy.”

For the past 15 years, LiFEsports has provided Columbus youth with quality sports and recreation programs while teaching leadership and life skills. About 700 youth annually participate in the organization’s programming.

A young boy picks up balls in the back of a truck

A young boy helps unload a truck that is full of sports equipment provided by the Lindy Infante Foundation and distributed by LiFESports.

LiFEsports adapted to social distancing with several new ideas, including the distribution of “Sport in a Bag” to families. Each bag includes a jump rope and either a basketball, football or soccer ball (donated by the Lindy Infante Foundation), as well as a LiFEsports At Home instructional guide with activities for children to stay active.

Smith helped pass out 250 of the “Sport in a Bag” equipment and accessories on that rainy mid-May day in Logan.

“Just to put a smile on a face means a lot, and it means even more to do it in my hometown,” Smith said. “I’ve always been impressed with just how much Ohio State continues to help and support causes and people in need. We step in whenever we can. I’m proud to be a Buckeye. I’m probably even more proud now.”

Published: May 26, 2020

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