12/29/09 — MOC serving community

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MOC serving community

By MOC Sports Information
Published in Sports on December 29, 2009 1:50 PM

MOC Sports Information

MOUNT OLIVE -- The NCAA recently introduced a community engagement initiative as part of the Division II mission. But Mount Olive College Athletics has always been active in community engagement and community service. Activities have not only seen Trojan student-athletes go out and become involved with the local community, but have also drawn members of the community to Mount Olive College.

While "community engagement" differs from "community service" by definition, the two terms share a common bond of involvement with the community.

Involvement may come from individual teams or from the entire athletics department through the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). Mount Olive SAAC advisor and assistant athletics director LaToya Greene says the student-athletes' participation is a win-win for the community, the college and the student-athletes themselves.

"The student-athletes are able to give back to the people who support them at their athletic events," said Greene. "There is a sense of pride for the student-athletes who are giving back and appreciation from the community. The students, college and community benefit when everyone can come together to accomplish the same goal of volunteering time to help someone else."

Greene added, "The students are reflecting a positive image of the college and also are carrying out the College Covenant (Caring & Respect). The student-athletes gain a sense of fulfillment and even though they may not be a star on their team, each individual is just as important when they are volunteering their time and helping out another."

SAAC chair and women's soccer student-athlete Jenn Sastre echoes Greene's sentiments and adds that volunteering not only brings the students closer to the community, but also closer to each other.

"It gives us a great feeling to know that we are helping someone out, whether it is in the local community or on campus," said Sastre, a senior from Fayetteville, N.C. "It also benefits us socially. We create a bond with each other, as well as with the people in the community."

Participation by student-athletes in community service activities has been enthusiastic. Greene notes that even those who may be reluctant at first to give up their personal time quickly see the benefit of volunteering in the community.

"Most students don't want to spend their free time doing something other than what they want to do," said Greene. "However, once they get involved and start to volunteer and see the difference they can make in the community or in the life on an individual, they begin to feel as if they really can make a difference and they can utilize their talents/skills outside of their particular sport. I have seen instances where students wanted to continue to volunteer at a particular event even after the team was done."

Some of the activities that Mount Olive athletes participate in include the Pink For The Cure campaign, in which teams don pink attire in support of National Breast Cancer Awareness month. The Trojans also hold an annual United Way baseball clinic, Walk for Diabetes and visit the Free Will Baptist Children's Home.