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Five current and former UCLA student-athletes join Wendale Farrow (far right) at a teen adventure program.
UCLA Women's Basketball Spends the Summer Giving Back
By: Jacquie LeMarr

The UCLA women’s basketball program has always made an effort to give back to the community and this summer has been no different. From helping out at inner city schools and local children’s hospitals, the UCLA women have continued to contribute to a wide range of charities.

This year the program has added a new face to its team in Wendale Farrow. A former basketball player at Eastern Michigan University, Farrow will serve as the video coordinator for the UCLA women’s basketball team and will also coordinate the program’s community service efforts.

Last year he was serving as athletic support staff at the University of Michigan where his primary focus was on student athlete development. His duties also included working heavily for Michigan’s program in video coordinating and software. Majoring in high education student affairs and being a former Division I student-athlete, Farrow is a perfect fit for this team.

At UCLA, Farrow will take a leadership role in organizing all of the community service outreach programs for the UCLA women’s basketball program. Coordinating the mission has shown Farrow that the team strives to build better values along with better basketball skills. He says that he shares Head Coach Cori Close’s vision to “serve and grow through service.” He looks to give back to the community and return all of the support he has received over the years.

Coach Close has always been passionate about helping others and wants to teach her team how to give back as well.

Usually the team is split into three groups that go out and serve at a vast array of sites. Each coach has four or more players that they are responsible for in the group. They pick a program and serve that program every month.

“This allows the players to build a bridge between UCLA and the program it is serving and allows us to connect with the project on a deeper level,” Farrow said. “It really embeds the women into their work and allows them to form a bond that isn’t always producing fresh faces.”

The team’s vision was to incorporate diversity within their mission so that they can cover many different forms of charity work and grow through the different experiences.

Some of the program sites include Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA, Lifeline Charter School in Compton, a senior citizens home in Culver City and the Dream Center in Los Angeles. Additionally, each year during Christmastime, the UCLA women’s basketball team adopts a family in need and ensures they have a joyous holiday season. They have also engineered a shoe drive, partnering with Samaritan’s Feet, the past two seasons. All of these different avenues give the UCLA women a chance to experience new ways to help others and their community.

The work is a reflection of Coach Close’s values and how she wants to give her team the ability to help people.

Each athlete is required to do one community service project a month, whether independently or with their group. Farrow and the players also try to incorporate charities that are personal to them as well.

This summer the team has spent time working with autistic children and their parents, handing out over 1,000 backpacks at a local “Back to School Drive,” and mentoring young students in the community. They volunteered at the HollyRod Foundation’s 4th Annual “My Brother Charlie” Family Fun Festival in early August. They also worked Ryan Hollins' basketball camp "Get Buckets" and volunteered at the Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA Teen Adventure Program.

“The summer is a great time to give back and spend quality time with their programs before the season starts,” Farrow said. “All of the players have their usual once a month programs, but they usually want to do much more for the community and it’s great to see them so passionate. The women get to grow along with the people they serve, and that makes them better players in return.”

The UCLA women are making huge strides with their service projects, which has brought them closer together, on and off the court. Their enthusiasm for service has inspired other teams and athletes to get involved as well. The Bruins are doing amazing things to give back to their community and that will surely show in their upcoming season.

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