Student-athletes Give Their All, Both On and Off the Field

Frederick Ellis Dashiell Jr. | June 16, 2010
Student-athletes Give Their All, Both On and Off the Field

Being an athlete takes time: time for practices, workouts, and games, not to mention balancing class work and jobs. But the student-athletes at University of Massachusetts Boston also take time out to help their neighbors.

Athletics communications director Alan Wickstrom says “every team makes an effort”—after all, social responsibility is in the athletic department mission statement—and a closer look reveals just how hard every team works to make the community a better place.

Every Christmas, the men’s basketball team visits Boston Medical Center, where the players and head coach Charlie Titus (who also serves as Vice Chancellor for Athletics, Recreation, Special Programs and Projects) delivers toys to the children. The men’s baseball team, meanwhile, has taken part in cleanup efforts in Franklin Park for four straight years. Twice a year, about 30 players work with the Franklin Park Coalition to “help them clean the park and trim back invasive species, according Brendan Eygabroat, the head coach.

“The kids say ‘when are we doing out next community service event?’” said Terry Condon, Senior Associate Director of Athletics, Senior Women’s Administrator of Internal Operations and women’s volleyball head coach. Like other coaches, Condon leads the team in free volleyball skills clinics for local youth. In March, the softball team conducted a clinic for Revere Girls Softball with the help of head coach Natalia Ardagna. The Beacons created stations for the girls to practice specific skills and spoke about what it’s like to play at the collegiate level. Ardagna and her team work with College Bound Dorchester to conduct tours of the UMass Boston campus for preschoolers and children age up to age 13.

On the men’s side, the baseball team hosted a skills clinic this past February in conjunction with the All Dorchester Sports League (ADSL). Students, coaches and staff worked with approximately 50 children to teach them the fundamentals of baseball in anticipation of the coming season, and later in the spring, the team coordinated with the entire Little East Conference league to promote Prostate Cancer Awareness Day on the first Saturday in May.

Both men’s and women’s hockey gave time in February when they participated in “Pink the Rink,” a national cancer awareness program recently brought to the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC). Additionally, the women’s ice hockey team has volunteered once a week since November at Cambridge youth hockey, working with the under-10 age group. In the same spirit of giving back, the men’s lacrosse team volunteers time in Plymouth, Massachusetts, helping head coach Rick Peterson with a lacrosse clinic for 9- to 15-year-olds, in which basic skills are taught.

Along with team activities, some sports choose to let their players volunteer individually. Eric Berg, head coach of UMass Boston’s tennis program, commented that several players from both the men’s and women’s teams participated in a fundraiser for Haiti held at the Campus Center.

The amount of volunteer activity and community service performed by the coaches, staff and student athletes at UMass Boston speaks directly to their desire to foster social responsibility. “It’s a team effort,” says Wickstrom.

For more information on volunteer opportunities call 617-287-7917 or email Jain Ruvidich-Higgins at jain.ruvidich-higgins@umb.edu.

Tags: athletics , community , the point

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