SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — It’s homecoming for Augustana University, or as they like to call it, Viking Days. Since it’s a Friday ahead of a home football game, it means something more- and not only for the Viking football players. On Friday night KELOLAND News stopped by the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Sioux Empire, where Augustana players have been regulars.
Augustana University senior Brett Thomas Shepley plays wide receiver. But right now, he’s playing video games.
“Pretty much every Friday night before home games we get some of the guys between 5, 15, sometimes 20 guys, and we head over here to the Boys & Girls Club and just kind of hang out with the kids. There’s not really too much of a structure to it,” Shepley said. “We just kind of hang out and do whatever the kids want to do.”
Friday night is far from his first time.
“I’ve been doing it ever since my very first year here,” Shepley said. “I remember it was one of the first home games, and I was just leaving the locker room late or something, and some of the guys were driving by and they were like, ‘Hey, what are you doing,’ and I was like, ‘Nothing.’ They were like, ‘Alright get in the car, we’re going to Boys & Girls Club.’ I was like ‘What?’ And I loved it, it was a ton of fun, so been doing it ever since.”
“It started with our Augie football players five years ago,” said Kiley Metz, volunteer and community relations coordinator with Boys & Girls Clubs of the Sioux Empire. “And since then we’ve gotten some Augie cheer gals in, we’ve gotten some volleyball players coming into the club, and it’s also inspired us to reach out to other sporting clubs as well.”
On Friday, even with a TV camera just feet away, the kids don’t flinch: fixated on the good time they’re having with the big kids.
“They can look up to them as role models,” Metz said. “They may not have that positive male role model in their life.”
“I like to think they have fun, too, but I might have more fun than them sometimes,” Shepley said.
“They’re big, they’re strong, they’re a positive person to be around; they’re fun,” Metz said. “So it means a lot to them that people would come, spend their time with them, get to know them.”
The Augustana football team plays St. Cloud State on Saturday at 1:00 p.m.