SAN FRANCISCO — Eight years after Illini football players helped out at a San Francisco nonprofit — and threw in some memorable, impromptu entertainment — the team will be returning to the same charity Saturday.
In town for the Redbox Bowl, the Illini will be making a stop at St. Anthony’s from 9:15 to 11 a.m. to serve food in the dining room and help with a free clothing program.
“It is a long-standing tradition to volunteer with us during the holiday season,” St. Anthony’s spokeswoman Rachel Ball said.
The Illini were last at St. Anthony’s when they were in town for the 2011 Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. Someone began playing the piano and a handful of team members began rapping to it.
“It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen,” said UI sports information director Kent Brown.
St. Anthony’s is a nonprofit founded in 1950. It serves people facing extreme poverty and homelessness, Ball said.
Game for anything
Other stops the Illini will make ahead of Monday’s Redbox Bowl:
A tour of Alcatraz Island is on tap this afternoon, with the Illini taking a choppy San Francisco Bay ferry ride to check out the onetime home of Al Capone.
A year too late
Injuries to Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson have decimated the Warriors. At least the Illini will get to check out the NBA’s latest digs ($1.4 billion Chase Center) tonight when Phoenix visits.
Hold on tight
Saturday night’s team dinner at Pier 39 will include the opportunity to hop on a cable car, a San Francisco treat since the 1870s.
From Sunday’s pep rally at Justin Herman Plaza outside the team’s hotel to Monday’s pregame bash at the Santa Clara (Calif.) Convention Center, the "I-L-L, I-N-I" chants should be easy to hear.