DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- It's no secret that the life of a student-athlete is demanding. But that didn't stop athletes at North Carolina Central University from putting in major work off the field, too.
During the last year, these Eagles have banked nearly 10,000 hours volunteering in the community. On any given day, more than 200 student-athletes logged hours at W.G. Pearson Elementary School, Shepard Middle School and the NCCU campus pantry in between practices, workouts and games.
"The feeling that I get personally from seeing the kids' faces light up when we just come in the door - we haven't even said anything or interacted - they just light up immediately," said NCCU wide receiver Marseille Miller. "They love to see us. That's priceless. Seeing the way the kids interact with us, the way we just come through and make their day. Like I said, that's priceless."
Not only did these student-athletes log hours volunteering, but they also participated in unpaid internships.
Just being able to show the people in my community that hey, I was in y'all's shoes a long time ago. Now me being older I'm still reaching back," said Devin Smith, also a receiver for the Eagles football team. "I'm still helping out in the community showing faith like, hey I'm still here."
The athletes say the extra work is well worth the effort.
"Just being able to get engaged with the community that surrounds our school that comes to our games and supports us, it's nice because you see how much those kids look up to us," said quarterback Quest Powell.
Running back Latrell Collier added: "My whole purpose is invest into others like they did to me. And I feel like that's one of my callings on this earth is to give back."
It's not just members of the football team. In all, there were 213 student-athlete volunteers representing all NCCU sports.
"When students see people that look like them succeeding in school, sports, and life, it gives them a type of confidence that's exhilarating," said WG Pearson Family and Community Liaison Jarmon Delbert. "Sports transcend the daily challenges of life. When our students are able to see and touch their athletic and scholastic community heroes, it lets them know that they too can achieve greatness. When the national champion football team came after winning the Celebration Bowl and talked to our students about being a 'Champion in the classroom,' I am convinced that was part of what helped our students focus and knock the end-of-grade testing out of the box."