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May 11, 2013
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NU students look to affect change with Block N

There is a faction of student-athletes at Nevada Union that is tired of the negativity that has seeped into the school’s athletic programs, and it has turned to the past to find a solution.

Thirty-plus NU student-athletes brought together by a group of NU teacher-coaches have banded together to resurrect Block N, an old club that was present at NU in the 1950s set up for students who want to make a positive impact on their peers.

“There has been lots of conversation around campus for a couple years now, but it really hit critical mass last semester where we felt like there needed to be a paradigm shift in regards to the culture,” NU head basketball coach and teacher Jeff Dellis said. “Not just with athletics but with the school. We have so many good things happening here and so many good kids to talk about, but what gets the headlines and what people hear about are the negative things. And we are convinced that the vast majority of students at NU are good kids and that it was time those students and teachers step up and be counted.”

Dellis, along with NU teacher and girls head water polo coach Craig Zetterberg and 15-20 other coaches, set about gathering kids they believed could spur a change.

They sent out 36 invitations to returning student-athletes who spanned all NU sports programs.

“We asked them to step up and be part of the solution and help resurrect the image of NU student athletes,” Dellis said. “I’m of the belief that student-athletes are going to be role models. They can be good role models, or they can be bad role models. Unfortunately if you’re not a strong role model, you’re still a role model. Student-athletes are role models one way or the other.”

Thirty-three student-athletes answered the call.

One of those students-athletes was Faith Robichaud, who competes on the water polo team, the swim team and the snowboard team.

“I really like the idea of bettering our school and making an impact,” she said. “I think we will definitely face some negativity in that we might not be the cool group to be in because we want to do community service, but I think after it catches on, we will be a lot more efficient and a lot more people will be interested.”

Water polo player and swim team member Parker Rhodes said he joined because he had been looking for a way to make a positive impact on what he saw as a dwindling image of the NU athlete.

“Lately, NU has gathered this negative image for itself, and I was thinking NU needs a way to redeem itself,” Rhodes said. “When I got the invitation for Block N, I thought this is a good way to make a difference. If something is going to get done, these are the kids that can lead it.

“Our goal is to redefine what a student-athlete is. It’s not just someone who can excel on the playing field. It’s someone who can excel in every aspect of life.”

The new Block N club is just in its early stages but has aspirations of working with Best Buddies International and Eskaton Village, said Dellis.

Block N will make its debut at the May 22 Athletic Open House at Nevada Union, where members will be looking to make a positive impact on incoming freshmen.

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email

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The Union Updated May 11, 2013 12:22AM Published May 11, 2013 12:14AM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.