JumpStart’s mission is to inspire Cedar Rapids children to reach their educational potential by teaching vital lessons in leadership and academics as part of free sports programming at the Robert W. Plaster Athletic Complex.

The Program


  • June 2022 Dates: 8, 9, 10, 15, 16, 17, 22, 23, 24, 29, 30, 1
  • July 2022 Dates: 6, 7, 8, 13, 14, 15
  • All programs will be held from 5:00 PM-8:00 PM 


  • All of our activities are taking place on campus. This includes the Robert W. Plaster Athletic Complex and Rinderknecht Athletic Center.


  • JumpStart is completely free of charge. Meals are included.

Year-Round Activities

  • Basketball league
  • Volleyball league
  • Mount Mercy sporting events
  • On-campus activities
  • Arts and crafts
  • Lunch Buddy Program
  • Halloween on the Hill

We have reached the sign-up capacity limit for the 2021 summer program. We are looking forward to a great summer!

JumpStart Coaches

Our coaching staff consists of Mount Mercy students, and their goal is to influence the kids in a positive way. Meet this year's JumpStart coaches!

Jacob-perks-jumpstart.jpgI am a senior criminal justice major from Tampa, Florida and currently an assistant for the men’s basketball team at Mount Mercy. I was part of the team that helped form JumpStart and this will be my fourth summer with the program! After graduation, I hope to start a JumpStart program at another university one day.

My name is Catherine Gannon, but my friends call me Katie. I am majoring in criminal justice and minoring in psychology and child and adolescent studies. I was born and raised in South Florida, and I am an animal lover of all types and have two dogs at home. I enjoy helping others, especially those who are most vulnerable. In my friend circle, I am usually the person others turn to when they need something. I look forward to meeting everyone at the camp and making lifelong friends!

evee-jumpstart.jpgMy name is Evee Krouse, and this will be my first year as a JumpStart coach! I will be a sophomore next year at Mount Mercy, and I am majoring in criminal justice and social work. I love playing my trumpet, as I am in the university band and jazz band. I have two younger siblings, so I love playing toys and games with them. In my free time, I enjoy watching movies, playing video games, hanging out with friends and family, watching sports (Go Packers!), listening to music, and going on walks around campus! My favorite food is ice cream, and I would eat it every day if I could. A fun fact about me is I had a pet turtle when I was a kid! I’m so excited to meet all of you guys this summer!

avery-anderson.jpgHello! My name is Avery Anderson and I'm so excited to be back on the JumpStart team! In the fall of 2021, I'll be a junior majoring in music education, and I love being involved on campus! I sing soprano in Mount Mercy's choir, jazz choir, and show choir and I also work for the show choir department (best job ever)! I also am the President of Mount Mercy Acapella Club, a Student Ambassador, a Residential Advisor, an Orientation Leader, and the Vice President of Social Media for our business club, Enactus. When I'm not studying, singing, or doing other club-ly duties, I love spending time outside, reading, baking, and adding to my embarrassingly large Pokémon card collection! I'm so excited to spend another summer with your kids!

Hi I’m Becca Francois from Rosemount, Minnesota. I am a junior nursing major. Along with JumpStart, I am involved with the track team, Mission and Ministry, the Council for Student Athletes, and working part time in the Office of Admissions. I am the youngest of six kids in my family and I am an aunt to seven nieces and nephews. I love to be outdoors walking, hiking, rollerblading, or just soaking up the sun. I am a huge Marvel fan and have seen every movie multiple times. I am also huge ice cream person and love any sort of chewy candy. This is my second year with the JumpStart program, and I am so excited for all that we will do this summer. Can’t wait to see you all soon!


My name is Faith Mendoza and I am from Wilmington, Illinois. I am a freshman nursing major, student ambassador, and I am also a thrower on the track and field team. I am a very big fan of all different types of sports and I am willing to play any one, even if I’m not that great at it. I love to tell jokes and stories to others. I am a big fan of powerlifting since I was on a team in high school, and I also enjoy watching Olympic lifting. I am a huge fan of female college basketball, specifically the UConn Huskies.


My name is Kenny. I was born in Rock Island, Illinois, raised
in Hannibal, Kenny-jumpstart.jpgMissouri and Davenport, Iowa. I graduated from Davenport West High-school. I am currently studying business, management, and marketing while playing for the men’s basketball team at Mount Mercy University. I am the only son of 6 siblings.

roy-jumpstart.jpgMy name is RoyShawn. I am currently a senior here at Mount Mercy majoring in psychology. I am playing basketball for the Mustangs, and this is my third year with JumpStart. After graduation, I plan to start my career working in the school system, and eventually becoming a principal of a school.

Hi everyone! My name is Margie Villaruz and I am currently a junior at Mount Mercy. I was born in the Philippines, but spent the majority of my years growing up in Waukegan, Illinois. I am a biology major and I play basketball on the Mustangs women's team. In my free time, I like to stay active and spend time outdoors. I absolutely love spending time with kids. I am very grateful to be given this opportunity with JumpStart, and I cannot wait to meet you all!

My name is Octaviyon Stanley, and I am an incoming freshman from Prairie high school. This is my first year being a part of JumpStart and my career path is in education. I’m also on the men’s basketball team for Mount Mercy.

remmie-jumpstart.jpgHello, I am Remington Comried, currently a sophomore at Mount Mercy. I am a psychology major with two minors in criminal justice and sports psychology. I am also on the women’s basketball team here at Mount Mercy University. This is my first year as a JumpStart coach. I am super excited to meet you all. The summer of 2021 might be the best summer yet!

abbi-kinnaird.JPGHello, I am Abbi Kinnaird, currently a senior at Mount Mercy majoring in elementary education. I am an athlete on the women's basketball team! This is my second year of JumpStart, and I absolutely love spending my summer nights with kids. It truly is a dream come true. During quarantine, I have spent a lot of time nannying for a family of four girls and a family with a baby boy. If we are not going on walks, we are doing arts and crafts. When I am not nannying, I am working out at home, going on walks with my puppies, or doing homework. I am typically also preparing to coach high school softball during this time, but all of that is a slow work-in-progress. I hope you guys are enjoying the time spent around your family. Hope to see you all soon!

Riley-jumpstart.jpgHi! I was born in Richmond, Virginia and raised in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. I graduated from Washington High School, and am currently studying finance and playing basketball here at Mount Mercy. The local restaurant Riley’s Cafe is a family business and was named after me.

My name is Sydney Woods and I am currently a sophomore at
Mount Mercy. I double major in sydney-jumpstart.jpgelementary education and psychology, and I am an athlete on the cross country and track teams! I am super excited to be part of JumpStart, as this is my first year! A few passions of mine are health and fitness, along with being with kids and helping them always be active and learning something. When I’m not lifting, running, or babysitting, I love going to my grandpa’s shop with my family, playing with my puppies and taking them for walks, shopping with friends, or making something new and healthy in the kitchen. I am super excited for this summer and getting to be a part of this amazing program!


My name is Sydni Von Sprecken, you can call me Syd! I am currently a junior at MMU and major in Healthcare Administration. I play soccer for MMU and this is my first year being a coach for JumpStart. I am super excited to spend this summer with the kids; see you all soon!

tiara-jumpstart.jpgMy name is Tiara Munoz, but most people call me T! I am a double major in psychology and criminal justice. I am the oldest of three; I have two amazingly wild and active siblings who are my whole world. I love being around people, and some may even say I can talk for hours with someone I do not even know! I always have a smile on my face (especially when someone gives me chocolate)! This is my first year being head coach for JumpStart, and I cannot wait for all the fun and exciting memories that are going to be made this summer!


Jose-jumpstart.jpgMy name is Jose Ortega, and it is my first year in JumpStart. I was born in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. I came to this country when I was just 13 years old. My favorite things to do in my free time are working out, playing soccer, and having a good time with friends. My dream is to own a gym and be a personal trainer, and to be able to help people become more active and help athletes to reach their full potential. I hope by joining JumpStart, I can become a role model and show these kids that anything is possible if you set your mind to it.


Pershing-jumpstart.jpgHi! My name is Jason, and I am the Director of Jump Start and Assistant Athletic Director at Mount Mercy University. Prior to my time at MMU, I served as the Director of the Alternative High School in Mount Vernon, Iowa. I have worked as an academic advisor for the Upward Bound program at Coe College, and served as the head boy's basketball coach at Solon High School. I am a Mount Mercy graduate and hold a Masters degree from Walden University in Public Administration. I am married to Danielle Pershing and we have five daughters: Bel, 19; Quinn, 11; Lenox, 7; Oakley, 5; and Rawlins, 1. I am so excited to get to know all of you!


I actually did JumpStart last year ... I knew I really enjoyed it, and it was something I wanted to do again. So, when I found out I had the opportunity to do it again, I wanted to do it. I just like bonding with the coaches and just hanging out with all the other kids.