At the start of each school year, when Missouri S&T’s athletic teams gather for their annual NCAA compliance and informational meeting, director of athletics Mark Mullin opens the meeting by talking about his expectations for the student-athletes in the program.
Mullin covers a number of topics in his remarks, including academics, sportsmanship and one that some may not immediately attach to athletics — service. It is an area that he puts a strong emphasis on with the student-athletes in the Miner program.
“Communities would not survive without the work of others,” Mullin says. “You need volunteers and people finding the time to help, so one of the things I always want to emphasize with our student-athletes is to get involved in service projects and to be someone who can make a difference.”
The M-Club at Missouri S&T gives students that opportunity.
In the early 1920s, a group of student-athletes came together to form what would become the M-Club. It was not a recognized organization on campus until 1939 and when the charter was approved, a total of 25 student-athletes — eight of whom would later be inducted into the Miner Athletic Hall of Fame — were active members of this fledging organization.
When it was formed, M-Club’s emphasis was on promoting athletics and keeping the alumni in touch with the institution after graduation. Over the years, the organization has evolved to emphasize the betterment of sportsmanship and school spirit. Today, it also lends service and support at athletic events on campus and in the Rolla area.
“I am hopeful for continuous growth in our organization; we were able to significantly increase our membership in this past semester,” says Shelly Ekholm, M-Club president. “I plan on having this organization continue to gain a strong reputation on campus and within the athletic department. I am very excited about what lies ahead.”
“I really wanted to get involved in the community,” says Katie Herington, a member of the volleyball team and former president of the organization. “I joined M-Club because I knew that since it was run by my peers, there would be a lot of organization and dedication. That’s what it takes to be a student-athlete.”
Current M-Club members have been involved in part with the university’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee in raising funds for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. According to Herington, M-Club donated more than $700 to the organization last year, raising a good portion of the money with a trivia night and a semi-formal dance it sponsored.
In addition, M-Club members have also assisted local elementary schools with events, officiating youth sporting contests. They also have assisted with the Optimist Club in Christmas tree sales in the parking lot at the local Kroger and have volunteered at the Tri-County Humane Society in St. James. M-Club, whose sponsor is Sarah Moore, assistant director of athletics, has also been prominent in assisting with the Special Olympics and Junior Olympics events during the spring semester.
Members are required to do five hours of community service per semester.
“We try to help in the community as much as possible,” says Meghann Morrow, another former president whose brother, Matt, persuaded her to become a member of M-Club when she came to campus. “My favorite part is that we give the young kids positive role models to look up to. Hopefully, that will inspire those kids to get out there and also do some good in the community.”
“I see a great future for our organization,” adds Morrow, who played softball at S&T. “We keep growing in numbers every year and the more people we have, the more opportunities there will be for us to help out and put on events like Special Olympics and carnivals for the kids — which allow more chances for us to positively affect the lives of young kids.”