By Jordan Boitnott
The Youngstown State University women’s soccer team announced their partnership with Mercy Health to host a virtual 5K marathon.
YSU Women’s Soccer Assistant Coach, Alyssa Gervellis, said participants register online through a platform called Active. Because of the virtual modality, runners can choose their own route.
“They can run anywhere, anytime, as long as it is in the time frame of the competition. If you’re in Florida, you can run in Florida; if you’re in Oregon, run in Oregon; if you’re in Youngstown, you can run in Mill Creek Park,” she said.
The race will begin Sept. 28 and finish Oct. 4. Contestants can run and post their times anywhere before the end date. YSU women’s soccer head coach Brian Shrum said the plan to have a fundraiser with a non-profit organization came from former soccer player Kendaya Chin-Jackson.
“She’s been doing it all around. She is from Florida, so she has been doing things like this there. Now she is starting things here in Youngstown,” he said.
Shrum said half of the proceeds will go to Changes By Day, a charity that donates food to those in need.
Robb Schmidt, assistant director of athletic marketing and promotions, said Mercy Health has been a great partner to YSU for many years and made setting up the 5K very easy.
“With the pandemic cutting our spring short, what we wanted to do was make sure they were still involved with our so-called Olympic sports like soccer,” he said. “Since they are our overriding title sponsor in that department, it just seemed like a natural fit. It helped our relationship with them and gave them the exposure they deserve.”
Schmidt said each contestant will receive a free t-shirt sponsored by Mercy Health for participating in the 5K
“We were able to put their logo on the back of these shirts that we’re giving away. It was a good way to use their sponsor money and advantageous for everyone involved,” he said.
Gervellis said the 5K is a good way to get the team involved in the community and hopes the 5K becomes an annual occurrence.
“One of the reasons I was hired is to get our girls in the Youngstown community. It’s been a really great experience to bring the soccer girls into the community. We would plan on doing this every year,” she said. “The girls got to choose the foundation; it’s completely run by the girls. They are setting goals, the behind the scenes work, running [and] getting registrants to raise money,” she said.
Gervellis said the 5K can be a unique way to connect with others socially during the pandemic.
“Through social media we run a leaderboard showing their times and names. It will be a way to keep in touch through the pandemic in a safe and fun way,” she said. “They can use their race images and times and hashtag YSUWSoccer5K and we will put those images on our social media platform, and the YSU sports platform. It’ll be a good way to keep in touch.”
Contestants can sign up from now until Sept. 21 at a cost of $25.