Amherst College’s athletic team engagement initiative is fairly new, but in just a few years, has already had widespread impact.
The program is composed of individual “ATELs” (Athletic Team Engagement Leaders), individuals that represent each athletic team and facilitate team wide community engagement.
“The AL/ATEL program was established during my first year at Amherst,” junior athletic liaison Virginia Hassell said. “The growth of the program in a few short years has been enormous. During the inaugural year, only varsity athletes were included in the program. Now, the program has expanded to include varsity and club sports.”
Following their annual retreat, held Jan. 18-19, the ATELs have been busy in the new semester, organizing numerous team engagement opportunities.
“The retreat is always one of my favorites parts of the year,” Hassell said. “For 24 hours, we work to equip the ATELs with the skills and knowledge that they need to most successfully inspire and organize engagement initiatives for their respective sports teams.”
Some highlights from the semester include Amherst women’s basketball’s ABC Fundraiser Game, an event held on Saturday, Feb. 7, during the team’s 52-33 win over Wesleyan. Women’s basketball ATEL Hanna Hackley ’18 helped to organize the game, along with Hassell. The team brought A Better Chance Scholars to LeFrak and gave fans the opportunity to get to know the students that their donations would be supporting.
The A Better Chance group has a mission statement that focuses on providing academically talented and highly motivated young men of color with the tools and support systems needed to maximize their opportunities for success. They carry out their mission by funding students to stay in Amherst and attend the local schools. Amherst women’s basketball also spent some time volunteering as tutors for the students.
Thanks to the fundraiser game, the team raised $450 in cash donations that will go towards improvements for the study center located at the A Better Chance house.
Another feature of the semester thus far was an event sponsored by the women’s ice hockey team, and spear headed by ATEL Camille Herzog ’17. Camille and her teammates put on their third annual “Pink in the Rink” game on Sunday, Feb. 1 during their contest against Conn. College.
The funds from the game benefited The Cancer Connection of Northampton. The team chose The Cancer Connection due to its local connection and immediacy. They saw a need for help and envisioned direct ways their contributions could be used.
“Additionally, The Cancer Connection runs off an annual budget of only $300,000, so we know our funds would be well-appreciated and really have a significant impact upon local families undergoing their journey with cancer.,” Herzog said.
The game of course featured a pink theme, with Amherst players wearing special pink jerseys. They also had a representative from The Cancer Connection present to inform fans about the cause and what exactly the organization does.
“As ALs, we stress the importance of high quality community engagement, which meets community needs and fosters lasting relationships,” Hassell said.
This core value is one also supported by Karen Lee Miller and the Center for Community Engagement. Miller serves as the supervisor for the ATEL program.
“She has been integral to the conception and implementation of the program. She’s truly a role model for all of us,” Hassell added.
The Amherst Student will continue to feature the work individual ATEls are doing throughout the semester.