The Department of Athletics at the University of North Georgia strives to enrich student-athletes with academic knowledge, refined athletic ability, and caring and respect for the surrounding community. This is achieved through multiple initiatives and annual projects. Lindsay Reeves, director of athletics, talks about these initiatives and how they help shape the lives and futures of UNG student-athletes and community members.
This year marked the third in a row that UNG student-athletes reached the five-digit mark for their annual giving. How are they able to consistently top the Peach Belt Conference in fundraising for the Make-A-Wish Foundation?
UNG’s Make-A-Wish campaign is a collective effort of all branches of our campus community—faculty, staff, students and alumni. It is such a rewarding and personalized initiative because our student-athletes can relate to dreams and wishes. Each student-athlete who represents UNG grew up with a dream or wish and being able to make a child’s dream come true strikes a chord with our department. We even have a pair of women’s golf student-athletes who were local Make-A-Wish recipients as young kids. The Peach Belt also does a great job of promoting the campaign and creating an internal competition between the member institutions, but at the end of the day the real winners are the kids who get to see their wishes come true, and we love to see our student-athletes be a part of that process.
Why is it important for student-athletes to be involved in the community? What do they get out of it?
One part of the athletics mission is to help our student-athletes develop into complete citizens and professionals. Our entire athletic department staff of administrators, coaches and athletic trainers make our community engagement initiatives a top priority each year. The people of Dahlonega and surrounding communities give so much to help make UNG athletics successful, and they care so much for the student-athletes that we strive to show our appreciation.
Our student-athletes use community engagement as a tool to help build the foundation of the NCAA’s Life in Balance campaign. We are honored to be a part of this NCAA Division II priority. Division II is committed to developing students and communities by actively engaging in shared experiences and, therefore, has targeted community engagement as a strategic priority. These stories reflect our strong commitment to the overall experience of our student-athletes and to the important roles of service, leadership and respect, and how these attributes contribute to their total experiences at UNG. Community engagement also allows for the community that supports our endeavors on the courts and fields to see the players and coaches from a more personalized perspective.
What other community engagement activities are UNG student-athletes involved in?
Each team is encouraged to administer a community engagement project that features the strength of their particular team. In addition to the conference-driven Make-A-Wish campaign, our teams were involved with the county’s White Christmas food and toy distribution, Happy Trails Golf Tournament, Play Day at Sardis Enrichment School, the Read Across America program at Lumpkin County Elementary and various youth sport clinics. During the 2012 holiday season our student-athletes and athletic training students collected 51 meals that were donated to the Community Helping Place and distributed to local families in need.