SAINT LEO, Fla. - Since the year 1999, Saint Leo University students have known the Lion to be their only mascot, a symbol that is displayed proudly and frequently across University Campus. For the past two years, however, the Saint Leo University women's golf team has grown to love another animal… the famous "birdie".
In golf, getting a "birdie" refers to finishing a hole one stroke under par, which helps to keep the golfer's score low so that they can advance in the tournament in which they are playing.
Although making birdies are beneficial to the Lions' score as the women's golf team competes in the highly competitive Division II Sunshine State Conference, there is an underlying reason for their exponential love of birdies: for each birdie made, the Lions pledge one hour of community service.
As of January 30th of this year, the Saint Leo University Women's Golf team has completed almost 186 hours of community service, thanks to their volunteer work with Habitat for Humanity as well as their continued participation in Community Service Day at Saint Leo.
Habitat for Humanity, which is the main recipient of the Lions' volunteer work, is an international, nonprofit, nondenominational Christian ministry that seeks to provide clean and stable housing for families in need. In order to provide such good living conditions, the organization works with local volunteers to build and repair houses, while also giving financial support to the families who receive the gift of shelter. Since its founding in 1976, Habitat for Humanity has helped to build and repair over 500,000 houses and has served over 2 million people across the globe.
Although the Saint Leo University Women's Golf team has become very fond of working with Habitat for Humanity, they certainly won't limit themselves to helping just one organization. In fact, the possibilities are endless. Sophomore golfer Heather Petronis, the Sunshine State Conference Freshman Golfer of the Year for 2010-2011, says, "Birdies for Service is a great way for us to give back to the community… We feel good when we make a lot of birdies, and we also feel good when we give help to those in need! Sounds like a win-win to me."
The Saint Leo women's golf team kicks off their Spring season on February 20, at the Lady Moc Invitational, hosted by Florida Southern. For the latest news, updates, and information on the Saint Leo women's golf team, visit saintleolions.com.
Saint Leo Softball Junior Katie Gwinn contributed to this story.