On March 26, Amherst LEADS hosted the “Caring Deeply” event as part of its First-Year Initiative Program. Over 150 student-athletes sat captivated in O’Connor Commons as two-time Ugandan Olympic runner Julius Achon shared his powerful life story of struggle, strength and athletic accolades. Perhaps his most admirable accomplishment, however, is the Achon Uganda Children’s Fund (AUCF), a charity which the humanitarian founded that runs an orphanage and medical center in the Otuke District of Northern Uganda.

The women’s ice hockey team competed with fervor this season and finished the year third in the NESCAC. Like any successful team, the student-athletes skated with tenacity, skill, and teamwork. Yet it was their “attitude of gratitude” that set coach Jeffrey Matthews and his student-athletes apart.

As a student-athlete, full days of classes, practices and extracurricular activities make it dangerously easy to get caught in the “Amherst bubble.” Despite busy schedules, however, the women’s softball team avoids this trap. This year, the Lady Jeffs formed a partnership with Girls Incorporated of Holyoke (Girls Inc.). Through interaction with some of the Pioneer Valley’s vibrant young women, the student-athletes expanded their knowledge of the surrounding community and learned lessons of collaboration and leadership.