New college sports scandals crop up all too often.
Whether it be a recruiting violation, a coach quitting on his team for a better job or an athlete being arrested, when media coverage focuses on the actions of college athletes off the field, it tends to be negative.
Over winter break, Lane basketball player Gage Ostanik proved that every once in a while, a college athlete can make waves in his or her community for the right reasons.
On Dec. 13, Lane men’s head basketball coach Bruce Chavka received an email from Ann Christiansen, an ASPIRE coordinator at North Eugene High School.
Ann explained that earlier that evening, she and her husband, Alan, had been driving on the Beltline Highway when their left rear tire blew out as they approached the River Road exit in West Eugene.
“We pulled over to the side of the overpass as cars were speeding by us. My husband got out to fix the tire when along came Gage,” Ann wrote. “He pulled his big white truck out in front of us, got out and walked back to ask us if we needed help.”
Alan said he would never turn down someone wanting to help, and Ostanik offered to back his truck up behind the couple’s car, so they would be protected from traffic.
“My husband said he never even thought about it until Gage spoke it,” Ann wrote. “He said, ‘I could have been killed trying to change this tire with no covering.’”
Alan and Ostanik fixed the tire and afterwards the couple thanked him and acknowledged how rare it is that anyone would stop and help.
Ostanik told them that if he hadn’t stopped, his coach would be mad at him.
“We both laughed and asked, ‘Your coach?’” Ann wrote. “He said ‘Yes, I play basketball at Lane.”
It was at that point that the couple decided that they needed to inform Chavka of Ostanik’s act of kindness.
“In the past, I’ve gotten sketchy emails about guys maybe not doing what they were supposed to or acting up. I’ve gotten the ones that are not very favorable,” Chavka said. “When I read Ann’s email, I actually read it twice because it was so special. That’s just who Gage is. He has a heart of gold and he’s a really good guy.”
It’s refreshing to hear about a college athlete who is having a positive influence on Lane County as a community, because so often, that is not the case.
Most University of Oregon football fans are familiar with the legal troubles of former Duck stars like Colt Lyerla, Cliff Harris and Jeremiah Masoli. The coverage of their problems could lead a fan to believe that theirs is standard behavior for college athletes.
This is simply not the case.
For the past several years, the Lane men and women’s basketball, baseball and women’s soccer teams have all volunteered at the Whitaker Free Community Thanksgiving Dinner.
Samantha Schoene, Lane’s starting goalkeeper for the past two seasons, coached the Eugene Metro Fútbol Club under-10 girls team during the fall.
Derrick Malone and Tony Washington, two Duck football players who were named to the All-Pac 12 honorable mention team honors during the 2013 season, have spent time helping out at the Eastside Faith Center in Eugene, working with fourth graders in the youth ministry.
College athletes are idolized by the fans who pay money to watch them; they are role models.
Because of this, their mistakes are thrown out in public for everybody to see, and that is perfectly understandable.
However instead of only criticizing the athletes who make ugly mistakes, we should also acknowledge athletes who go above and beyond. Athletes who go about their business the right way and find a way to make a positive impact on their community.