Athletes Achieve a Balancing Act Between Class, Practice and Community Service
By: Lilyen McCarthy
In any given semester, an Adelphi athlete is balancing 12 to 15 credit hours, three lifting sessions and at least three practices a week. Depending on the team, from softball to track to volleyball, however, these athletes also have certain community service requirements per their coaches’ demands. Some teams have events they participate in as a collective while other teams must meet a specific set number of hours.
Adelphi softball consistently gives back to the community doing various services for Island Harvest, Spooky Fest and other local softball teams. Island Harvest service projects vary from distributing food to packing it, and at Spooky Fest, the team works sections of the experience like the craft table or haunted walk in order to make the night possible. While their coach allows for both individual and team service projects, the team prefers to get involved all together.
They define community service as giving their time to an organization or cause that benefits their community. This can include 5k runs, canned food drives and/or raising awareness for organizations such as Morgan’s Message.
“In the past, we have all been involved in the opportunities,” said Claire Fon, a senior and one of the captains on the team’s leadership council. “We feel it is a good way to bond as a team as we also help others. We don’t have a certain requirement, but we aim to complete as many hours as we can per semester.”
A large part of Adelphi volleyball’s community service is raising awareness for organizations. Every Sunday in October the team participates in a walk for a different organization. They have participated in the Stronger than Cancer, Autism Speaks and Breast Cancer Awareness walks. They will participate in the JDRF walk later this month.
“The walks are definitely my favorite community service event that we do,” said sophomore Noelle Alberda. “We get the most community engagement out of all of them, and it’s nice seeing people excited for our team to be there. It shows that not just the organization supports them but the people of their community as well.”
The team is required to complete 50 community service hours per year, not including summer break. Similar to the softball team, they have also volunteered for Island Harvest, Spooky Fest and held camps for local volleyball athletes. Other projects included working at Queens Farm and donating to canned food drives. The amount of hours the team must complete makes it difficult to gather everyone together for every event.
Said Alberda, “We can’t always get the whole team together for some of the service projects we do. I prefer participating in the early morning activities or ones later at night, so I get most of my day to do work. It doesn’t always work out that way, but the timing of the walks and Spooky Fest have definitely made it easier to handle both my workload and community service.”
Like softball, track and field doesn’t have a required number of hours, but the team still participates in various events to stay involved in their community. Last school year, they split up into groups and were required to participate in a service project near campus.
Sophomore Nikki Searles described her experience. “Specifically, my group volunteered at a local high school to help with their community garden. I know another group collected and donated cans to a food drive nearby.”
NCAA Civic Engagement Day this semester falls on November 8. It takes place on the first Tuesday after November 1 every year, and all athletes are prohibited from participating in any competition, practice or other athletically related activities to their sport. Instead, they are recommended to participate in some sort of civic engagement that day. This year the AU Athletics Department is holding a dodgeball tournament in efforts to raise money for Morgan’s Message, a national mental health organization focusing on athletes.
“Our mission is to raise money while also bringing everyone in the department together to raise awareness about the stigma that needs to be ended surrounding mental health,” said junior volleyball player Diana Migliozzi about the tournament. Migliozzi is a member of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and an advocate in Adelphi’s chapter of Morgan’s Message.
AU Athletics encourages all teams to stay involved in the community, on Civic Engagement Day and all year round. Said Fon, “The culture of our program under our coaches is one of community service and volunteerism. We don’t consider it a requirement. We consider it a purpose.”