When considering athletes, professional or collegiate, it is not all about personality, but each student-athlete at Southern gets certain opportunities to show off his or her character in ways on and off the field.
So when sophomore Paige Donlin from the Owls field hockey team volunteers at local public schools as part of the Community Service Cup, she said she is glad to be of help.
“I really enjoy having the opportunity to go to the schools in the community and help the teachers and students,” said Donlin. “I’m an Elementary education major so I try to take as many chances as I get to work with the kids.”
Sponsored by the Tim Greer State Farm Insurance Company, the Community Service Cup began three years ago to get student-athletes involved with volunteer work in the New Haven area, according to Tim Greer, who runs the insurance company.
“The Community Service Cup was the brainchild of (Associate Director of Athletics) Michael Kobylanski and (Director of Athletics) Pat Nicol,” said Greer. “They wanted to recognize student-athletes in a forum broader than just their athletic accomplishments. Student-athletes are a unique group of students in that they not only need to focus on their academics, but they must consistently train and practice and devote a lot of time to the sport they participate in, and usually excel at.”
Kobylanski said he would like the collaborative effort to continue for a very long time. He said he tries to make it to every place the student-athletes go when they do their volunteer work. He wants to show his support any way possible.
“I had discussions with Pat Nicol shortly after my arrival here at SCSU and we decided to bring the program into fruition,” said Kobylanski. “I’ve been extremely pleased with the partnership. Our staff and athletes buy into it in a very high level and I hope it will be a permanent fixture in Southern.”
Student-athletes like Donlin have volunteered in various schools in the area to help younger students with their schoolwork. She said she recently helped out at Beecher School to work with fourth graders.
“I remember both of the boys I worked with last week,” said Donlin. “They mentioned how they trusted my opinion in the way I helped them. Me and one of the women soccer players worked on math with the students. I worked with two boys. The teacher wanted the students to get extra help in math so they were working on the same math packet.”
Student-athletes participate in various activities that include canned food drives, involvement in campus events, working with the American Cancer Society, helping out at the Boys and Girls Club and volunteering at local soup kitchens, according to Kobylanski.
Greer said every student-athlete is unique and this program provides him or her with the opportunity to support different causes and involve themselves with things they are passionate about.
“Southern has many things to be proud of with their student-athletes,” Greer said. “Not only do they excel within the arena of sports, but they also excel in academics and give a lot back to our community.”
According to the Southern athletics department website, Owls’ student-athletes have volunteered over 5,000 hours since September 2007.