DON KETCHUM is a native of Phoenix. He was a sportswriter for The Arizona Republic/The Phoenix Gazette for nearly four decades. He covered high school sports on several occasions as well as the Arizona Diamondbacks, Arizona Cardinals and Arizona State sports. From 2008-14, he was a staff writer for, the web site of the Arizona Interscholastic Association.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Frosh ride new wave of community service

One is tall and plays volleyball. The other is a bit shorter and plays tennis.
As different as they may be, what bonds these two Xavier freshman athletes together is their long-time friendship and their affinity for helping those in the community.
Volleyball’s Ericka Snopko and tennis’ Tia Kelly recently received the President’s Volunteer Service Award for achieving the required number of hours over a one-year time period. There are bronze, silver and gold levels and they were in the gold category.
They reached that level by devoting more than 100 hours apiece to community projects, about half of that with the Valley’s Sojourner Center, an underground battered women’s shelter.
The girls also worked with St. Patrick’s Catholic Community, the Boys & Girls Clubs, Girl Scouts and other non-profit organizations.
They have known each other for nine years and began their service work as members of the Girl Scouts.
The work at the Sojourner Center involved “painting and creating a warmer environment for the people who lived there,’’ Kelly said.
Snopko added that furniture was a key component, and the girls went to old furniture shops and contacted relatives, parents and friends for donations.
Another addition was creating wall hangings that included cloth-type overlays that reduced the sound in the rooms.
The girls will continue to be involved in future projects.
One will be a repeat of a project they organized while in eighth grade – a father-daughter dance for kindergarteners and first-grade students.
Snopko started playing volleyball at the age of 7, and has played on club teams along the way. Last fall, she helped the Xavier freshman have a strong season – the Gators only lost two matches.
Kelly’s family has always been into tennis, and she began taking lessons in the fourth grade.
“It’s a lot of fun, getting out there in the fresh air, being active,’’ she said.
Though she admits it was difficult at first getting used to the time management and studying while playing sports, Snopko said she enjoys the Xavier experience very much.
“It’s very rewarding and I’ve made a lot of good friends,’’ she said.
She plans to get even more involved with school activities starting her sophomore year.
Kelly already is working in XCP’s theater area, helping the stage crew set up for plays, etc.
There never seems to be a shortage of something to do, especially if it means helping people.

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