By Nami Nagaoka
The Penguin Athletic Training Students Club at Youngstown State University adopted the Night Lights Program and has been hosting the program every Friday evening since the beginning of August.
At this event, students at East High School, a Youngstown City School, enjoy a meal provided by the Penguin Athletic Training Students Club before their games.
The club recognized that high school students in low economic areas may need help getting the necessary energy boost and proper nutrition to perform well at their games.
Kara Trella, vice president of the Penguin Athletic Training Students Club and a graduate student in the athletic training program, said the club usually gathers healthy snacks and brings them to the high school before the games, so the athletes can eat on the bus on their way to their games on Fridays.
According to Trella, the Night Lights Program is only possible through the help of its dedicated members, many generous donors and other invested parties.
Trella’s Youngstown roots have made her aware of the many kids growing up in Youngstown under difficult circumstances in low socioeconomic areas.
“[These high school students] have proved to the entire city they are capable of things some people may never have guessed,” she said.
On Saturday, East High School made the playoffs and the Penguin Athletic Training Students Club hosted the Night Lights Program event at YSU. Trella said East High School defeated the number one team in the Youngstown area in the past week.
“The fact I was able to be a part of such a historical year with the team is something I’ll never forget,” she said. “I was proud to be a part of an organization that wants to help in any way possible.”
Jessica Wallace, the athletic training program director and assistant professor in the department of kinesiology and sport science, focuses her research on sports-related concussions. However, as she conducted studies on this subject, she was able to gather information on a startling fact.
Wallace discovered there is a significant number of high school athletes who don’t get enough food before they go to a game.
Many of these students live in low-income households and participate in meal assistance programs at school.
Wallace suggested to East High School that YSU should start raising money or finding a way to feed these high school athletes.
“They only eat lunch at school and they weren’t eating before the game,” she said.
Wallace described Night Lights Program as her way to give back to the Youngstown community.
Blaine Spires, a senior student at East High School and the captain of the football team,said he performs better when he eats before a game.
“This helps us. If we don’t eat, the games will be harder and it will be hard to do the best,” he said. “It gives us the energy that we need on the field to compete in football games.”
The Penguin Athletic Training Students Club is currently asking for donations to continue and improve Friday Night Light program, and donations can be made at: https://www.gofundme.com/w6ymp-friday-night-lights?member=1061440.