FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Whether it is shooting free throws, wearing tennis shoes, encouraging kids to read or coaching in his bare feet, Northern Arizona Head Basketball Coach Mike Adras is a willing participant for a good cause.
"One of the things we try to emphasize to our young men is the concept of giving back," said Adras. 'We try to initiate them into as many community service projects as we can. The hope is they will continue what they learned at NAU about giving back to their communities."
Adras is currently participating in three national events to raise awareness for global causes. First, he wears tennis shoes to each contest as part of NABC's Coaches Against Cancer campaign. The Coaches vs. Cancer program is a nationwide collaboration between the American Cancer Society and the National Association of Basketball Coaches, reaching millions during Jimmy V Week on ESPN.
"For me personally, it is choice to promote cancer awareness," said Adras. "I am dealing with personal issues like everybody (regarding cancer). I thought it was a great way to bring awareness and pay tribute to those who are battling cancer in their lives."
Adras sees the difference the fundraising is making and just wants to play his small part.
"I am encouraged by all the research and work that goes into battling this," said Adras. "I think every day we get closer and closer to finding cures."
On Saturday, Dec. 10, he will coach the game bare foot for the "Barefoot for Bare Feet" Coaching Event in support of Samaritan's Feet, a humanitarian and inter-faith non-profit organization dedicated to taking a life-changing message of hope to people and equipping the feet of impoverished children in the US and around the world with shoes.
"There are so many underprivileged youngsters throughout the world who do not have a pair of shoes," said Adras. "It is hard to fathom when you are on a basketball team and each player has several pairs of shoes to get through the season. The Barefoot Coaching Movement is a good cause."
The Barefoot Coaching Movement was conceived in 2007. In January 2008, IUPUI Coach Ron Hunter coached a game in his bare feet to raise awareness for the plight of impoverished children who suffer needlessly from foot-borne diseases and infections due to a lack of shoes. Coach Adras will join Coach Hunter and thousands of coaches across the country by going barefoot to raise "Barefoot for Bare Feet" Coaching Event in order to call attention to the 300 million children in the world who are at risk of disease, infection and death due to not owning a single pair of shoes.
People can contribute by bringing new or gently used shoes to the game on Saturday against Cal-State Bakersfield. Bins will be available at the entrances to the Rolle Activity Center to drop off the shoe donations. Those who want to help provide shoes to children in need can text the number 85944, keyword SHOES and a one-time $10 gift will be donated to Samaritan's Feet through their cell phone bill.
Adras recently completed his participation in the Shots From the Heart free throw contest to raise awareness for the American Heart Association and the Skip Prosser foundation.
Fans can also bring new unwrapped toys to all three NAU basketball games this week and receive free admission for their donations. NAU Athletics will collection donations at the men's basketball game Wednesday against Pepperdine, women's basketball game versus Nebraska on Saturday (1:35 p.m.) and men's game against CSU Bakersfield Saturday night.
"The toy drive is important because it stays local," said Adras. "Every child should enjoy opening at least one present. It is nice to see people show up with a gift to help a worthy cause."
Adras will continue his community service caravan next week in Winslow when he joins members of his staff and team in speaking to an assembly recognizing the Tickets to Reading Rewards for Winslow Junior High. Over the life of the program, students have read an estimated 4,000,000 books, obtained nearly 1,000,000 rewards and attended 125,000 local men's and women's NCAA basketball games--all at no cost to schools or students.
The Ticket To Reading Rewards program was founded in 2002 by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Foundation.
"They have coaches from around the country speaking to youngsters," said Adras. "It gives us a chance to go into another community and bond with them. They have been going through the reading program. We are going to congratulate them for being a part of this program and talk to them about what it takes to get to this level and hopefully aspire to come to Northern Arizona University."