NEWPORT NEWS, Va.—Student-athletes from The George Washington University won the Inaugural Atlantic 10 Conference Assists Challenge, a community service initiative that encouraged the reporting of 24,000 service hours by teams from 11 of the 13 A-10 institutions.
Originating last Fall by the Atlantic 10 Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), the A-10 Assists Challenge organized community service projects its member teams were engaged in into a fun and competitive activity that increased the visibility and awareness of the A-10 SAAC. The initiative, which accomplishes the A-10 SAAC’s goals of community service engagement and awareness also helps promote both the community service activities the student-athletes complete and the organizations and causes they are assisting. The result was nine of the institutions reported more than 1,000 hours of community service and five of those nine reported more than 2,000 hours. In all, 23,710.25 hours of community service were reported.
“We have amazing student-athletes in the Atlantic 10 -- I commend them on having completed nearly 24,000 hours of community service. Volunteerism is an important initiative in this country and the Atlantic 10 Conference is proud to be giving back to each of our communities,” stated Commissioner Bernadette V. McGlade.
George Washington was declared the champion based on “institutional point value,” which is determined through a formula that considers total hours completed, number of student-athletes participating and total number of student-athletes at the institution. As a group, GW teams reported 5,130.75 hours of service, resulting in 29.83 points. Saint Joseph’s ended with 3,896 hours and 18.64 points to finish second and Duquesne had 3,475.5 hours, resulting in 18.34 points and third place.
“As an athlete, you have a responsibility to give back to the community because the community is supporting you,” said George Washington soccer player Jane Wallis earlier this year. “You’re an ambassador for the school. It’s part of your brand to give back to something bigger than you.”
Rhode Island rower Abbey Miklitsch said that “It was just nice to give back,” after the Rams community service efforts this year that included a food drive and an obstacle course competition that raised money for charity.
Service hours could be reported from any project the institution chose, but must have been reported by April 22 and could only include projects during the 2013-14 academic year.
For example, St. Bonaventure, through their program called "Little Bonas" met with the local youth once or twice a week for two hours to teach basic soccer skills, the result of which was 25 men’s soccer student-athletes conducting 14 sessions each for a total of over 700 hours. Duquesne’s campus SAAC held a shoe drive to help the organization One World Running. The Dukes collected new and used shoes to be donated, and VCU took part in celebrate!RVA, a group that believes in the magic of birthdays and arranges them for underprivileged children.
Beginning in January, participating institutions were able to track their progress on the Atlantic 10’s new official SAAC page on atlantic10.com. The result was a friendly competition that increased participation and helped further foster the relationship among the A-10 SAAC members.
If there was any doubt about the inaugural A-10 Assists Challenge being successful on an annual basis, that doubt is gone. Using the A-10 SAAC Video competition, which has grown in participation each year as an example, the first Assists Challenge is a harbinger of continued community service success across the A-10.