by PETE WATKINS, WSU director of athletic communications


Athletic programs at Winona State University (WSU) combined for a banner year in community service in 2021-22, as documented in the 2021-22 NCAA Community Engagement Report produced by Helper Helper, the official NCAA Team Works partner program. 

Associate Athletic Director and Senior Woman Administrator Melanie Brunsdon noted, “A sincere ‘thank you’ to all our student-athletes for representing Winona State University in such a positive manner. Our student-athletes continue to show up in the classroom, in competition, and in contributing to the community. Congratulations to our coaches and staff as well, for this impressive showing.” 

Winona State ranked 15th among all NCAA Division II athletic departments participating in the Helper Helper program. The top two performing women’s programs for the Warriors were softball and volleyball, respectively. WSU was 10th among all division softball programs, while volleyball was sixth. Both teams qualified for the NCAA Division II postseason. 

In men’s sports, Warrior football was second in the nation, with only Lenior-Rhyne University logging more volunteer hours than WSU, while Winona State baseball was sixth overall. The strong community service finish in both men’s sports comes following seasons in which long-time head coaches Tom Sawyer (football) and Kyle Poock (baseball) retired after more than a combined 50 years at Winona State. In all four top-10 program finishes, Winona State was the top Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) school. 

In total, NCAA Division II student-athletes logged more than 34,600 hours of community service with a projected economic impact of over $988,000. Over 50 percent of all student-athlete service hours tracked by Helper Helper occurred on weekends.

In addition to the impressive NCAA Division II showing for the Warriors, the 2021-22 academic year saw the return of the Winona State University Galaxy Gymnastics program. Winona State competes at the NCAA Division III level in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC). WSU Galaxy gymnastics program, under the direction of Head Coach Stephanie Geislinger, provides pre-K, elementary-age, and middle school students the opportunity to train with Warrior gymnasts. 

Community service projects throughout the year included a Warrior Zombie Crawl event for area youth in October and the successful return of the Warriors Got Talent program, raising funds for childhood cancer research. Student-athletes from all 15 Winona State programs took part in service activities in Winona and the surrounding region. 

About Helper Helper: The mission of Helper Helper is to enhance the community service outreach programs of educational institutions by giving schools the tools to better plan, manage and track the volunteer efforts of their students. Helper Helper’s goal is to help organizations build a better community outreach program. 

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