Aug. 29, 2012
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - For Notre Dame student-athletes, finding the time to balance academics and athletics can be a challenging one. However, the athletic department's Student Welfare & Development office looks to also provide opportunities for student-athletes in the community, to help with the University of Notre Dame's mission of developing the mind, body and spirit.
The effort paid off in 2011-12, as Irish student-athletes performed an all-time high of 8,178.5 community service hours. The total was over 900 more hours than 2010-11 (7,226.5) and almost double what was performed in 2009-10 (4,828). All teams participated in community service during the year and the 8,178.5 volunteer hours is equal to 340 consecutive 24-hour days of service.
"Being a student-athlete at the University of Notre Dame is by far one the greatest experiences of my life," said Fraderica Miller, a former women's basketball student-athlete and 2011-12 Student Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC) president. "Not only was I able to play in two national championship games and receive an offer for full-time employment post-graduation, but I was also able to experience incredible growth as a person. The family-like and spiritual environment of Notre Dame encourages its students to be givers/servants and to have the utmost faith in God. Through my participation as an athlete, I was able to make a difference in the South Bend community through countless hours of service. My involvement in community service is something that I have taken pride in since high school and Notre Dame only deepened that for me. Community service is not only great for the people you are helping in the community, but it also teaches invaluable life lessons that can really impact the person you ultimately become. I love Notre Dame and I love what the university stands for. I love that as a university and, furthermore, as an athletic community, we take so much pride in community service. Because of Notre Dame's commitment to giving back, it is making a statement about how true it is to the university's values, as well as how committed it is to making its students (athletes especially) more well-rounded and equipped with the necessary skills to succeed in life."
"Community service is especially important to me because it creates smiles -- in the kids, the community, the athletes and other volunteers," said fencer Alex Coccia, who is also a member of SAAC. "These smiles can have a profound impact on a community because smiles are not given, they are shared. Because of the prominent voice that student-athletes at Notre Dame have, it is our responsibility to also show through our actions that we are committed to giving what we can to our community. Community service is love in action that truly shows we are our brothers' and sisters' keepers."
Jack Swarbrick, Notre Dame Vice President/Director of Athletics, added, "Our student-athletes embrace the challenges that a rigorous academic course load and competing at the highest levels of intercollegiate athletics brings. And while dedicating the necessary focus, time and energy to achieve in those areas, they continue to amaze me with the spirit of serving others they consistently display. Though the new record number of hours is impressive and a mark we're proud of, the ultimate measure is in the impact made during the hours spent with those we served and the personal growth of each student-athlete who volunteered."
Among the highlights from the year are:
Irish Experience Programs - Comprised of the Irish Experience Camp, the Irish Experience League, and Irish Experience Days, the Irish Experience shares Notre Dame's goal of human and community development with the greater South Bend community and around the world. The Irish Experience Camp brings children from throughout the South Bend community to Notre Dame's campus for an enriching experience built around the school's five pillars of success. The Irish Experience League allows the Notre Dame community to take the fun, spirit and values inherent in Notre Dame sports to the community. The Irish Experience Days offer Notre Dame student-athletes and teams community service opportunities throughout the South Bend community. The Irish Experience Road Show allows leaders to take the spirit and values of Notre Dame to children around the country via off site Notre Dame multi-sport clinics that are infused with the spirit and values of the five pillars and the Play Like A Champion philosophy.
Fighting Irish Fight For Life - Ten teams were paired with 10 children and their families from the Memorial Hematology/Oncology Pediatric Unit where they built relationships with the families to help support them through the hardships of the illnesses and treatments.
Rebuild Tuscaloosa - Twenty-four student-athletes and six administrators traveled to Tuscaloosa, Ala., for fall break in October to help with the cleanup efforts from last April's tornado that decimated the Tuscaloosa community. The trip, called Fight for Tide, worked in collaboration with Project Team Up, an initiative to rebuild communities that partnered with Alabama football head coach Nick Saban's foundation Nick's Kids. Throughout the week, the of student-athlete from seven Irish teams cleared storm debris on lots where new houses will be built. They also developed a bond with the Alabama softball team, as the Tide came out and worked hand in hand with the Irish student-athletes.
I'Stepped Up - Seventy student-athletes worked one on one with children at Perley Primary to help tutor and prepare them for the ISTEP test.
Life Works Dream Teams - More than 100 student-athletes served in Dream Teams in various schools in the South Bend area. With the Dream Teams, student-athletes would team up in groups of 4-5 student-athletes and meet once a week in a classroom to teach a class full of kids about goal setting, overcoming obstacles and work ethic.
For more information on Notre Dame's commitment to student-athletes in the community, visit the Athletics Department Student Welfare and Development's website at http://swd.nd.edu. You can also follow them on Twitter (@NotreDameSWD), on Facebook (www.facebook.com/NDswd) or on YouTube (www.youtube.com/user/notredameswd).