Each year on April 6, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and participating colleges and universities nationwide recognize National Student-Athlete Day. Created by the National Consortium of Academics and Sports and the Northeastern University Center for the Study of Sport in Society, the celebratory day has been celebrated nationwide since 1994 as an appreciation of athletes who excel in their sport, in the classroom, and in community service.
At Boston College, Student-Athlete Day this year will be celebrated through a week of events that seek to highlight how athletes here exemplify the University’s mission during their time as undergraduate students. Kicking off on Monday, April 6, the first event will be a dodgeball game for student-athletes. On Tuesday, there will be a pizza event during the women’s lacrosse game in recognition of student-athletes. Wednesday evening’s event will be a tailgate for student-athletes prior to scheduled baseball and softball games.
According to Dard Miller, Director of Learning Resources for Student-Athletes, Thursday evening’s event holds particular importance for both student-athletes as well as members of the University community that support them in their athletic and academic endeavors.
“A Student-Athlete Faculty Reception [will be held] on April 9, 2015,” Miller said. “Representatives from each varsity team invite faculty members that have inspired and supported their education at BC. This annual event, co-sponsored by Learning Resources for Student-Athletes and the BC Athletic Department Student-Athlete Development Office, has been held for the past three years.”
Part of the focus with this year’s student-athlete week is to better educate faculty members and others in the BC community about student-athlete life. While athletic and academic commitments are transparent and visible to others around them, the community service work student-athletes do—often off-campus—can go unnoticed by faculty and others students at BC. Many of these service efforts are coordinated by the NCAA’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committees (SAACs).
“SAACs have created a variety of programs for National Student-Athlete Day,” according to the NCAA’s website. “Some SAACs do community outreach by visiting patients at local hospitals, while other SAACs speak to elementary and middle school students about the importance of education. Some SAACs have hosted luncheons to recognize the accomplishments of their peers, while other SAACs have hosted interactive assemblies at their campuses for local students.”
BC’s SAAC has been directly involved in numerous service efforts to involve student-athletes in the communities surrounding campus. Three such initiatives, as outlined on BC SAAC’s webpage, are Pen Pals, Thank-a-Thon, and a movie delivery to the Franciscan Children’s Hospital. The Thank-a-Thon is a program involving student-athletes with BC’s alumni outreach efforts, organizing personal thank-you calls to recent University donors.
According to Miller, the Pen Pals program demonstrates the efforts many student-athletes make to give back to their surrounding communities. The program pairs each BC athlete with an elementary school student at a local school. Exchanging letters each month, the elementary school students join the student-athletes on campus for a picnic on Alumni Field.
“Student-Athletes exemplify the Boston College community service spirit with a variety of activities: team service visits to the BC Community Center, local schools, and hospitals, 242 student-athletes participate in the Pen Pal program with students from the Edison and Winship Schools, and an annual service trip,” Miller said.
The week’s events will conclude with a game and movie night for student-athletes on Friday, April 10.
Featured Image Courtesy of Connor Mellas