March 12, 2010
By Lauren Chval
Sports Information Student Assistant
Senior Olavo Batista has been golfing for the University of Notre Dame for four seasons, and he is in his second season as a co-captain. As a freshman, he brought a wealth of experience and diversity to the team having lived in Florida, New York, and his native Brazil throughout high school. Batista says he fell in love with golf at the age of seven when his father played for the first time on a business trip, and it has consumed his life ever since.
Still, in high school and as a student at Notre Dame, Batista has found time to get involved in a number of service organizations, both individually and with his teammates.
“I guess for me I just feel that I’ve gotten so much in my life, that I’ve been so lucky in a lot of ways, especially in terms of having the opportunities to do the things that I enjoy doing, that the least that I can do is give back as much as I can,” Batista says.
In high school, Batista volunteered for Habitat for Humanity. But becoming a student at Notre Dame, he says, has created more opportunities for him to volunteer and made him see the value in it.
“Coming to Notre Dame has had a big impact in shaping my thoughts and how much I want volunteering and development work to be part of my life as I graduate,” he says. “I had the chance to go to Guatemala last summer for a volunteer one-month internship with a not-for-profit that works in rural areas of Guatemala. I would’ve never been able to go if it wasn’t for the financial support of the University to fund the entire trip for its students. And the experience has had a tremendous impact on my life, especially in regards to what I want to do in the future.”
Other than his internship, Batista has spent time at the Robinson Center tutoring high school students in a business plan competition. He says the success of the kids is rewarding, and insists that the tutors are “probably the ones who get the most out of it.”
But during his two years as co-captain, Batista has made a point of getting the team involved in community service as well. After participating in the Aidan Project his sophomore year, he encouraged the team to volunteer as a group his junior and senior years.
“I’ve always tried to get our guys on the team to get involved here and there whenever we can, and I figured the Aidan Project would be a good opportunity for our guys,” Batista says. “Everyone, or almost everyone, has in some way or another been touched by cancer–either in their families or friends. It’s only a couple of hours; they have good live music, and all of the guys know that the blankets they put together are going to a great cause.”
When representing the team on Notre Dame’s Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC), Batista was inspired when he heard about the service events other athletic teams hosted and decided to get the ball rolling on one for the golf team. Eleven members of the golf team organized for 20 kids from the Robinson Center to come to Notre Dame’s facility and learn the basics of the game.
“I figured it would be a great opportunity to get the guys involved in something that all we love doing–golf,” he says. “Also since golf is not a sport that most young, inner-city kids have played, it would be a great chance for them to learn about it for the first time. Who knows, maybe out of the group of 20 we had, one or two will really enjoy it and ask their mom or dad to take them to play again.”
Batista credits not only his upbringing but also his time at Notre Dame for his mindset on involvement in the community.
“The feeling of helping someone and seeing them succeed, or seeing their lives improve and know that you had a part in it, that is just great,” Batista says. “In many ways this has been shaped by my parents and during my four years here at Notre Dame, I really believe that settling for the way things are because `that’s the way it is’ or because `it is too hard to change it’ is a really bad excuse to ignore problems. Maybe a lot of the problems we have around us will never affect some of us directly, but if I have the ability to try to change it, or at least start changing it, then that’s what motivates me.”
— ND —