July 13, 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 an increase of more than 900 hours from 2010-11 (7,226.5) and almost double what was performed in 2009-10 (4,828).
“We have a special kind of student-athlete culture here at Notre Dame,” said Sarah Smith, a former Fighting Irish softball player and 2008 graduate and current program coordinator for Student Welfare & Development. “Not only do we have a standard of excellence in the classroom and on the field, but we have a standard of excellence in the service of our community in South Bend and beyond. Notre Dame student-athletes get a holistic experience when they come here and, with the support of our coaches and administrators, we make sure of it.”
Among the highlights from the 2011-12 year were:
- 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 group made up of members of 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 Crimson Tide came out and worked hand in hand with the Fighting Irish student-athletes.
- Irish Experience Leagues – Held at the Martin Luther King Center and Kroc Center every Sunday in April, the Irish Experience League teamed up student-athletes with youth in order to facilitate organized sports and life skills discussions.
- 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.
- 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.
- Life Works Dream Teams – Over 100 student-athletes served in Dream Teams in various schools in the South Bend area. With the Dream Teams, they 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 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).
— ND —