Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Community Service Based Activities by current Track & Field and Cross Country Student-Athletes

Garrett Graham (center of back row) served as a volunteer
English teacher for the children of migrant
laborers at “Grace School” in Kunming, Yunnan, China (PRC).

Thinking Locally and Acting Locally
.....Thinking Globally and Acting Globally

Too often people outside our world of athletics do not realize how involved our track & field and cross country student-athletes are within our communities as volunteers. They are visibly seen during their competitions as athletes and seem to be often overlooked for their achievements outside of athletics. They do not seek attention for their work and they do not try to draw attention to how much volunteer work they do. They place value in the area of civic engagement and quietly take care of business athletically, academically and with regard to volunteering. Over the past several months the members of our track & field and cross country teams have contributed to numerous community service projects here in the Richmond area, their hometown communities and countries throughout the world.

Having the opportunity to hear some of the stories and to learn about outside cultures our men and women have participated in continues to be a highlight for both Lori and I. We have been impressed and often amazed at the leadership our men and women show outside of athletics. We have always and continue to believe athletics is the best classroom there is within an educational setting. It teaches countless lessons including the obvious: team work, unity, self confidence, self and team reliance, goal setting, the ability to adapt to deadlines, handling pressure, time management and numerous others. Then they carry those skills over into all other aspects of their lives, including the reason they are here in college…and that is to earn a valuable education. The participation of young men and women within athletics is invaluable and leaves no doubt why businesses contact us asking if we have anyone graduating we could recommend for their firms. Those professionals know when they get a successful student-athlete from the Richmond Track & Field program they are getting an exceptional young man or women dedicated to success.

As I get back to the point and off the tangent and before talking about their community service work it’s important to explain a typical academic year for our track & field and cross country athletes. First, they are never “out-of-season” as it pertains to competition. They are always in their competitive season. There are times we envy those 1 season sports and their unlimited opportunities to recruit during the off season. Lori and I chuckle when we hear them talk about how busy they are. I’m always tempted to explain what our athletes do, but every coach seems to think his/her athletes are the most dedicated. I know our men and women are dedicated. After all, name me any other sports team that arrives in mid August for preseason cross country camp and remains constantly in their competitive season representing their University until the middle of June…10 months later.

To outline my point…Cross Country season starts with the team’s arrival 9 days before classes start in the fall and ends on the Monday before Thanksgiving in November. Cross Country ends with the opening (2 weeks later) of the competitive segment of the indoor track & field season which goes from the first weekend in December through mid March…Meanwhile, the outdoor qualifying window for the NCAA Outdoor T&F Championships overlaps by opening on March 1 and concludes with our National Championship meet in mid June. Our athletes are competing and representing our University during the entire 10 month period.

Our typical week includes our primary practice each morning from 7:30AM until 10:00AM, followed with 2-3 days of lifting before classes. Each afternoon they have another workout based on their level of development. For some it’s another run, while others incorporate a cross training workout. This afternoon workout is arranged based on their individual schedule and is to be completed anytime between 2pm and 7pm. Following their afternoon workout it’s time for them to study and prepare for the next day and the competition on the approaching weekend.

Making this community service list even more impressive is the fact that these young men and women have earned the distinction of US Track Cross Country Coaches Association (USTCCCA) All-Academic Team” for the 8th consecutive year for maintaining a cumulative team GPA above a 3.0... Additionally, our cross country/track & field teams placed 22 on the Atlantic 10 Conference Commissioners List for earning a 3.5 GPA or better during the fall semester (Megan Ney and Tim Quinn achieved perfect 4.0’s)...(article link: http://www.richmondspiders.com/sports/c-xc/spec-rel/022510aaa.html ). These student-athletes are achieving greatness in the classroom while balancing the demands of DI athletics and commitment to our communities. Again, it’s remarkable.

Here is a list of several, but not all of the Community Service Projects our Track & Field and Cross Country student-athletes have contributed to during the past 24 months:

Date(s) Community Service Events

Ongoing: Volunteer math coach at St. Catherine's middle school. Helping students with problem sets and practice tests to prepare them for local, state, and national math competitions (Richmond, VA)

Ongoing: Volunteer tutor for Richmond City Schools. Helping students advance their knowledge in all subjects (Richmond, VA)

Ongoing: Multiple Volunteers at local nursing homes…Hospice Work plus Reading, listening, sharing (Richmond, VA).

Ongoing: Volunteer Medi Home Health and Hospice Care …Hospice Work plus Reading, listening, sharing with terminally ill patients (Richmond, VA).

Ongoing: Volunteer “Cross Over Clinic West” (Richmond, VA)

Ongoing: Volunteer for “Habitat for Humanity” (Richmond, VA)

Ongoing: Volunteer International Hospital for Children (IHC) visiting and transporting patients and families (Richmond, VA)

Ongoing: Volunteer “Carver Promise Mentoring Program” at George Washington Carver Elementary School (Richmond, VA)

Ongoing: Multiple volunteers “Virginia Special Olympics” (Richmond, VA)

Ongoing: Volunteer translator for the “Cross Over West Clinic”…a clinic for families without Medical insurance (Richmond, VA)

Jan-March: Volunteer helping raise money locally for an orphanage/school in Kampala, Uganda (Richmond, VA)

Jan & March: Volunteer “Clothes Closet” a nonprofit organization providing free clothing to those in need (Churchville, VA)

January: Volunteer with the “LA Dream Center”…helping with food drives and homeless outreaches within community (Los Angeles, CA)

March-May: Volunteer English teacher for the children of migrant laborers at “Grace School” in Kunming, Yunnan, China (PRC).
See Garrett Graham photo top of this page.

March-June: Partnered with “Free Wheelchair Mission” to deliver wheelchairs to developing nations...helped raise over $38,000 resulting in about 770 individuals outside the USA being provided new wheelchairs (Orange County, CA).

March-August: Volunteer for “Leaders Inspired For Transition (LIFT)” (Richmond, VA and Washington, DC)
Link to "LIFT" video with Spider Track & Field athlete Matt Mello

March: Volunteer Medical Service Trip to Belize to provide free surgery at
the Southern Regional Hospital in Dangriga and teach health classes to the local elementary schools (Dangriga, Belize)

Conor Phelan on a volunteer medical service trip to Dangriga, Belize.

March: “Kyle's Run for a Memory” to benefit Kyle's Benevolent Fund, set up to aid
Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy (Pittsford, NY)

March: Volunteer “Wade Center”… to promote and nurture the growth of the
children, teens and young adults of the Greater Bluefield Community through practical programs and mentoring relationships (Bluefield, WV)

Sarah Nuttycombe volunteering at the "Wade Center" in Bluefield, WV.

April: Community Volunteer to raise money for a Community Health Center in the country of Burundi (Country of Burundi)

May: “Dragon Slayer 6K” to benefit the American Liver Foundation (York Beach, ME)

May: “Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure” to benefit Cancer Research (Pittsburgh, PA)

May: “Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure” (Philadelphia, PA)

May: “Kennett 5K” to benefit multiple social nonprofit organizations within the community (Kennett Square, PA)

May: Volunteer “Medved Lilac 10K” (Pittsford, NY)

June: Volunteer laborer in the nation of Vanuatu (helped build a church, repaint buildings, paint signs and village activities)…(Country of Vanuatu).

June: “Relay For Life” Volunteer (Lancaster, PA)

June:Eastside YMCA Invest in Youth 5K” (Penfield, NY)

June: Habitat for Humanity volunteer (Deep Creek Lake, Maryland)

June-July: Volunteer “Penn-Trafford Area Recreation Commission” (Harrison City, PA)

June-August: Volunteer at “Carroll Hospital Center” (Carroll County, MD)

July: Volunteer “Pacific Discovery Volunteer Conservation Program” as part of the New Zealand Department of Conservation…helping plant trees and shrubs in the conservation effort (Nelson, New Zealand)

Julie Rechel (right) and Diana Filtz (center) participating in "Pacific Discovery Volunteer Conservation Program" in Nelson, New Zealand.

July: Volunteer “Preble Street Community Shelter” in Portland, Maine for homeless and low-income residents (Portland, ME)

July: Volunteer “Camp Good Days and Special Times” a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for children, adults and families whose lives have been touched by cancer and other life challenges through summer camping experiences and year-round events and activities (Rochester, NY)

July: Volunteer “Good Neighbors Inc.”…Good Neighbors Inc. provides home repair, financial guidance and financial assistance to those who do not have the physical or financial means to make necessary repairs to their homes. (Chester County, PA)

July: “Church Work Camp” Volunteer…Multiple churches working together to help low income families…Much like Habitat for Humanity (Kennett Square, PA)

Kevin Romesser shown building a handicap ramp for a family in the community of Kennett Square, PA as part of "Church Work Camp".

August-May: Sole Volunteer geometry and upper-level math teacher for inner-city youth at Church Hill Academy in Church Hill (Richmond, VA).

September: “Annapolis 10 Mile Race” to benefit the Anne Arundel Medical Center specifically, AAMC’s new Cardiac Rehab Facility and the Oncology Center (Annapolis, Maryland).

September: “Great Cow Harbor 10K” to benefit the NY Special Olympics (Northport, NY).

September: “Tiger Trot 5K Race” to benefit Hanover County Elementary Schools (Ashland, VA)

September: “?Que Pasa? Festival” Volunteers…A Hispanic Cultural Festival - celebrating Hispanic heritage (Richmond, VA)

September: “Hispanic Heritage Celebration” Volunteers…similar to “?Que Pasa? Festival Celebration of Hispanic heritage (Richmond, VA)

September-May: Volunteer Tutor at Maybeury Elementary School -helping 2nd grade students in reading (Richmond, VA)

Megan Ney and a student participating in "Book Buddies" at Maybuery Elementary School in Richmond...a volunteer tutoring program to develop reading skills of students.

September-December: Volunteer Tutor at Chamberlayne Elementary School -helping 2nd grade students in reading (Richmond, VA)

September-June: Volunteer Tutor-English as Second Language (ESL)- at local High Schools (Richmond, VA)

September-June: Volunteer Tutor-English as Second Language (ESL)- at local Elementary Schools (Richmond, VA)

September-Novovember: Volunteer Tutor-English as Second Language (ESL)- at J.L. Francis Elementary (Richmond, VA)

September: “Belle Island 5K” to benefit Tinna Q. Cade Foundation for helping families overcome infertility

October-May: Volunteer "Character First"…lessons in a public elementary school one afternoon per week (Richmond, VA)

November:HCA 8K Road Race” to benefit “Donate Life”, the official race charity of the event…Working to increase organ, eye and tissue donation in Virginia and across the United States (Richmond, VA)

Jon Wilson, Matt Llano and Andrew Benford (L-R) were part of the team involved in the 2009 HCA 8K Race in Richmond benefiting "Donate Life"

November:Greensburg Turkey Trot” to benefit Big Brothers/Big Sisters Program of local YMCAs (Greensburg, PA)

November: Volunteer “Nancy King Memorial Fund” (Falmouth, Maine)

December: Manual laborer for “Fountain of Hope”, a Christian organization in
Honduras; brought medical and construction supplies; assisted in manual labor and rural health clinic (Country of Honduras).

December:Hollidaysburg Area New Year’s Eve 5K” to benefit local YMCAs (Hollidaysburg, PA)

December: “Ryan Jobes Memorial 5K”…a community race remembering Richmond Spider standout track and cross country student-athlete Ryan Charles Jobes. (Williamstown, WV)

Team members (shown here in 2006) continue to participate in the "Ryan Jobes 5K" in Williamstown, West Virginia. The race honors Richmond standout track and cross country team member Ryan Charles Jobes who died in a car accident on December 20th, 2005 on his way home from Richmond.

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