Written by Liz Groth
We’ve all heard some variation of the age old quote “do what you love, love what you do,” usually spoken in the context of searching for a job or choosing a career path, but shouldn’t this apply even more so to service work? Of course, people serve for a variety of reasons, to make a difference, to gain experience, or even to meet new people. However, when service work is tied to something you’re passionate about, it opens a whole new set of possibilities. This is what happened when Mackenzie Muha, a resident in Michels Hall and a student at St. Norbert College, combined her love for floor hockey with her service in a YMCA after school program for youth at Doty Elementary School.
When Mackenzie, who has been playing floor hockey competitively since she was seven years old, was given the responsibility of overseeing and organizing an activity for the afterschool program through the Greater Green Bay YMCA and Doty Elementary School, she decided to incorporate her love of the sport to teach the children she works with a brand new skill. Now, every Tuesday she is using her volunteer work to offer hockey lessons. Through these lessons, Mackenzie is able to provide the children of Doty Elementary School with the knowledge of a unique sport which they might have never otherwise had the opportunity to learn. She believes that learning to play a sport such as hockey is important on multiple levels. Mackenzie explained that “floor hockey is a team sport that requires a lot of movement and focus, but also allows kids to just run around and have fun with their friends.”
Mackenzie also talked about how she has been able to use hockey as a way to break gender stereotypes. Reflecting on her experience working with the Greater Green Bay YMCA and Doty Elementary School so far this year, Mackenzie spoke of a young girl who was both excited and grateful to have the chance to learn how to play hockey because she had previously thought that hockey was only for boys. The challenge of gender stereotypes is something Mackenzie admitted to facing especially with the older elementary school girls, where the sport is truly viewed as being male dominated. Although some extra encouragement has been required in these situations to fully engage all of the students, Mackenzie explained that the best way to include everyone is by jumping into the game herself and showing both the boys and girls that hockey is a fun sport that anyone can play.
Through her service, Mackenzie says she has realized how truly excited and happy the students at Doty Elementary School are to have the chance to learn new things. She says that it’s exciting to hear the kids talk about how fun hockey is and exclaim that they feel like NHL players when they’re in the middle of a game. Mackenzie explains that “it may just be floor hockey in a gym, but for the kids, they are just as awesome as the athletes playing in beautiful arenas getting paid millions of dollars.”
Noting that elementary school kids really look up to college students, Mackenzie encourages others to look into similar service opportunities. You can click on the links below if you’re interested in learning more about Doty Elementary School, the Greater Green Bay YMCA, or applying for the Michels Hall service program through St. Norbert College.