One of the most rewarding aspects of being an NCAA Division III student-athlete is giving back to the local community. During the fall semester, the MCLA Athletics department was extremely active in the Berkshires. Each team at MCLA schedules their own community service throughout the year. Over the course of the academic calendar, MCLA student-athletes engage in over 1,000 community service hours total.
Below is a look at what each program engaged in over the course of the fall semester:
Women's Soccer- Volunteering at the Pope John Paul Community Center
In 2011 after hurricane Irene the MCLA Women's Soccer team began to reserve one day during their preseason to volunteer at the Pope John Paul Community Center. This fall marked the 8th year of this service event. 18 members of the women's soccer team participated in the 6 hour community service project.
Head Women's Soccer Coach Deb Raber said, "It's always a fantastic experience for all of the women to get involved in their community chipping in to help… After the center closes, the volunteers and the team reflect on the day over pizza and ice cream."
During the event and throughout the years at the Pope John Paul Community Center, the team has stocked and organized shelves with community donations, helped clients with their shopping, and always help out where needed around the center doing things such as painting.
Volleyball- Participated in the "Walk a Mile" event hosted by the Elizabeth Freeman Center
September 20th, 2018 marked the 8th annual Walk a Mile event presented by the Elizabeth Freeman Center. Among the participant this year were 13 members of the MCLA Volleyball team. The march took place at 5:00pm in Pittsfield, MA.
"We choose to participate in Walk a Mile because domestic violence and sexual assault hits many families and we all need to support those in need" said head coach Amanda Beckwith. "Walk a Mile gives us a chance to support a local agency, Elizabeth Freeman Center, who works so hard to break the silence around rape, sexual assault and gender violence."
The Walk a Mile event is a march to stop rape, sexual assault, and gender violence and takes place to raise awareness. The event serves as the primary fundraiser for the Elizabeth Freeman Center to continue their work to provide leadership and services to address domestic and sexual violence in Berkshire County.
Celine Manigbas, a junior on the volleyball team said "It's an eye opening experience for anyone who goes, and I'm glad we walk it every year for the new comers!" She continues, "To me, participating in the walk a mile shows that the team is taking a stand against sexual violence and vowing to be a safe space for other team members and validating people's experience, especially in this political climate."
Sharing similar sentiments, senior teammate Beatrice Lechler said "Walk a mile is something that we have been doing since my freshman year here…This is a serious thing that women deal with and we need to make a stand and by doing this walk I think it does that."
Baseball- Participated in the "Habitat for Humanity" project in Pittsfield
At 8:00 am on Saturday, October 13th, 22 members of the MCLA Baseball team loaded vans headed to Pittsfield, MA. The student-athletes accompanied by coaching staff spent 6 hours working with Habitat for Humanity on a project in Pittsfield.
"When looking into a community service program for our team, I wanted to be able to combine helping a local person in need with our team members gaining the feeling and honor that comes from helping a veteran" said Head Coach Mike Gladu when asked about the project. He continued "it was a day that included a great opportunity for our team to help and a great life lesson as well."
The team members worked on the home of a military veteran and were tasked with installing vinyl siding and other improvements around the exterior of the house. The student-athletes worked in conjunction with Habitat for Humanity staff.
"It was a great experience to work with all of the guys on the team for one common goal" remarked Ryan Reuf, a sophomore member of the baseball team. Ryan added "to be able to help another person in need; from hanging siding to painting the doors everyone had made it a team effort to be able to make sure this gentleman was taken care of."
Although it rained most of the day during the project the team worked hard and were in good spirits.
Softball- Volunteered for the Fall Day of Service
On Saturday, October 24, 2018 the MCLA Softball team participated in the Fall Day of Service. The team was tasked with clearing trails at Fish Pond. Their efforts also included building rock bridges along the existing paths and newly cleared trails.
"We chose to participate in the 2018 Day of Service because we wanted to help both our MCLA community and the larger local community. By participating, we were able to join the efforts of our fellow Trailblazers in a day full of community service acts" says Co-Head Coach Amanda Meczywor.
For over 20 years, MCLA and the local community have joined efforts to enhance, improve, and maintain the community. MCLA hosted this Day of Service and was referring to this as the "fall edition". The event began at 9:00am when participants gathered in the Sullivan Lounge before heading out to begin their service projects. The service projects for the event concluded at 12:00pm with pizza and drinks being served for the volunteers at the Sullivan Lounge.
There have been a wide array of projects included in the Day of Service over the years and the number of volunteers has continued to increase.
Volleyball- Volunteered to assist with "Boo Bash" at MCLA during Halloween
Monday, October 29, 2018 marked the 24th annual Boo Bash event at MCLA. Among volunteers were 9 members of the MCLA Volleyball team. The team helped set up and decorate the Berkshire Towers dormitory for the event.
After entering through the decorated doorways of Berkshire Towers, coloring, limbo with a witch's broom, mystery boxes, a costume contest, and trick-or-treating were all provide for the attendees.
"It is great to be able to give back to our community through this annual event. We have been participating in this event for years and like to be able to help the community celebrate this fun holiday" said Head Volleyball Coach Amanda Beckwith about her team's participation in Boo Bash.
The Boo Bash event lasted from 6pm to 8pm and provided games, treats, and fun activities for children ages 6 to 11. The event was free and open to the public and all children accompanied by a parent/ guardian.
Men's Basketball- H.A.L.F (Health, Athletics, Lifetime Fitness) Times Program
Throughout the fall semester, the H.A.L.F Times (Health, Athletics, Lifetime Fitness) program, run through the Volunteer Center, has featured MCLA student-athletes of various teams. Both the men's basketball and women's lacrosse programs participated in H.A.L.F Times this semester. However, in the past 6 semesters the majority of the athletic teams at MCLA have run a clinic for H.A.L.F Times.
Men's Basketball Head Coach Derek Shell said, "it's always a privilege when we have the opportunity to spend time with the H.A.L.F. Times gang and we certainly hope that they all had as much fun as our guys did."
Although the program has been operating for a while, the past few semesters have catered specifically to the North Adams Public Schools third and fourth graders.
"It was a great opportunity for my players to have the chance to connect with local kids and share their athletic experiences. In many ways the clinic was just as rewarding for the women's lacrosse program as it is for the kids involved. From a coaching aspect it was great to see my team members practice plan for the clinic and teach fundamental skills" Remarked Head Women's Lacrosse Coach Kaitlin Feeney.
The mission of the H.A.L.F Times program is to expose elementary age kids to healthy and athletic life choices while having fun. H.A.L.F Times tries to involve the MCLA athletic teams in order to give these kids a wider variety of activities and experience in addition to introducing MCLA student athletes as positive role models.