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The Home of Champions extends into the community


by Chris Maxon

OCU student-athletes pack boxes of canned food items before loading a truck for Skyline during the annual holiday food drive.

Several years ago, while OCU’s athletics department was somewhere on the path to 72 national championships, the term “Home of Champions” was born. If someone were to plant a flag for such a moniker, you’d be hard-pressed to put it anywhere else but 2501 North Blackwelder.

The name’s origin is from hoisting trophies on the fields, courts, tracks and courses of competition, but the championship mindset goes even deeper. In the classroom, OCU student-athletes continually raise the bar for academic excellence, and they’re also making a big difference off campus in the Oklahoma City community and beyond.

Since 2007, the Athletics Department has partnered with Skyline, an Oklahoma City-based ministry concentrating on the poor and needy through a variety of assistance programs. The focus of OCU’s partnership is the program’s food resource center through an annual holiday food drive that runs in November and December.

It’s estimated Athletics’ food drive has provided over 130,000 non-perishable food items over the years. Each varsity team participates, securing donations at home events and from their own network of friends and family.

Softball coach Phil McSpadden, now in his 35th year, has been a part of every food drive with Skyline and recognizes its impact goes deeper than collecting canned food. “I enjoy watching our team come together and help the community. They learn so much about making a difference in the lives of others, and that will stay with them well beyond their short time on this campus.”

Anthony Carranza, third from right, and participants of the 2022 Red Cross Collegiate Leadership Program pose with Gail J. McGovern, president and CEO of the American Red Cross last summer in Washington, D.C.

Apart from the collective efforts with something like the food drive, student-athlete leaders like Anthony Carranza are individually motivated to give back and make that difference. Last summer, Carranza was selected to the prestigious Red Cross Collegiate Leadership Program as a representative of OCU in Washington, D.C.

One of the required components of the program is that participants setup blood drives on their local campus and start an American Red Cross organization or club. Beyond those tangible benefits, the leadership program also educated and motivated Carranza in his constant pursuit to lead and assist.

“One of the main themes was having a servant’s heart and why being a servant-leader is important,” said Carranza, a junior human performance/business entrepreneurship major. “It all goes back to treating others the way we’d like to be treated. There are many people who don’t see that we have hope here in the U.S., and I know I would want those around me to help me get back on my feet if I ever experience a setback in my life.”

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