Crusaders Ranked 6th in the Nation in NCAA Div. I Community Service Competition

By Maura Sullivan Hill

Holy Cross student-athletes work hard in their sports, but they put in just as many hours off the field of play, helping in the Worcester community.

4,959 hours, to be exact.

With that many hours of community service performed in 2015, the Crusaders ranked sixth in the nation in the NCAA Division I Team Works Competition.

The competition is based on how many community service hours each school contributes. It is sponsored by Helper Helper, a charitable scoreboard application that allows student-athletes to compete with their peers while serving surrounding communities and those in need.

Just how did they tally up so many hours? Let’s count the ways:



In the spring of 2015, men’s cross country runners Chris Conley ’16 and G. Matthew Greco ’17 organized a “Heel the Sole” fundraiser on campus, collecting spare pairs of shoes for Veterans, Inc. in Worcester. They donated 76 pairs of shoes last year and decided to take the project further, proposing it to the Patriot League as a season-long service initiative. During the 2015-16 academic year, all Patriot League institutions will be doing their own Heel the Sole collections. “After donating the 76 pairs of shoes to Veterans Inc. last year … it was apparent that shoes were something direly needed by the veterans,” says Conley. “I can’t wait to see it implemented by all of the Patriot League schools because it’s such a simple, yet profoundly effective way to give back to people in need.”



Players on the HC field hockey team donated 50 book bags filled with school supplies to the CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children) Project, a nonprofit organization that works for the best interests of abused and neglected children in the Worcester County Courts. The team has an ongoing relationship with the CASA Project: Last year, they donated more than 1,000 children’s books to the organization.



For the past 15 years, members of the Holy Cross men’s lacrosse team have mentored students at the Canterbury School in Worcester as part of John’s Brothers. John’s Brothers was started in 2000 by teammates of John Price, a Crusader lacrosse player and member of the Class of 2001 who died prior to his senior year. In addition to spending time with their “little brothers” each week, the lacrosse student-athletes also raise money for the Canterbury School after-school program. This year, they raised a record-high $15,000 through the Rodman Ride for Kids, a 25-mile charity bike ride that took place in September 2015. “The race means a lot to us because we have developed strong relationships with our little brothers over the years, and we know that the money we raise goes directly to something that will help them grow,” says Liam Driscoll ’17.



Last fall, when the men’s soccer team took on Navy on Oct. 10, they dubbed it a “pink game” and partnered with the V for Victory Foundation, a nonprofit organization that aims to lessen the burden of post- operative drain care for cancer patients. The founder and president of the V for Victory Foundation is Valerie Wright, a breast cancer survivor and the mother of Crusader goalkeeper Kevin Wright ’16. At the game, Valerie sold t-shirts and “Victory Pouches,” a unique product created by the foundation to contain and conceal the post- op drains so that they do not interfere with daily activities. “It means a great amount to me to have my own family coming together with my Holy Cross family for this great cause and to create awareness for breast cancer,” Kevin says. The soccer team’s work raised $300 to contribute to the foundation.



Continuing a tradition that dates back to the opening of the swimming pool in the Hart Center in 1982, the Crusader men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams hosted a Worcester County Swim League meet in September 2015 (top right). The teams organized and ran the meet, giving the age-12-and-under swimmers a taste of the college swimming experience. “As college swimmers, it is so important to give back to our sport,” Shannon Quinn ’16 says. “We made sure to create a fun and carefree environment near our starting block. It was imperative to stress the importance of enjoying swimming.”



The women of the volleyball team hosted a Dig Pink Rally and fundraiser at their match against Colgate on Oct. 23, 2015. They raised $400 for the Side-Out Foundation. In volleyball, “side-out” means to regain control of the ball, and the Side-Out Foundation aims to help breast cancer patients regain control of their lives. The funds raised by the Side-Out Foundation also go toward a clinical trial specifically for patients with stage four breast cancer, the most advanced form of the disease and the least funded area of research.



In September 2015, Holy Cross student- athletes and coaches participated in the 17th annual UMass Medicine Cancer Walk and 5K Run to raise money for cancer research. The baseball, women’s basketball, field hockey, men’s ice hockey, women’s ice hockey, men’s track and field and women’s track and field teams all took part in the event. The UMass Medicine Cancer Walk and 5K Run is the largest single-day walk/ run event in Central Massachusetts and 100 percent of the money raised goes directly to support clinical trials, cancer research and care at the UMass Medicine Cancer Center.



The women’s basketball team has spent the entire school year focusing on their annual Play 4Kay game in February. The Play 4Kay initiative supports the Kay Yow Cancer Fund’s mission of supporting scientific research on women’s cancers. Kay Yow was a legendary basketball coach at North Carolina State University and with the U.S. Olympic Team; she started the foundation during her 22-year battle with breast cancer, prior to her passing in 2009. The team collected donations at fall athletics events and continued the fundraising at their games and through their online fundraising page until the Play 4Kay game against Lehigh on Feb. 13. The final tally was $814, all donated to the Kay Yow Cancer Fund.



Since 2011, every goal scored on a power play at the Hart Center rink earned a donation to the men’s ice hockey team’s Power Play Points for Pink initiative. In 2015, Matt Vidal ’16 (pictured) worked to expand the initiative, and now every power play goal—home and away—results in a donation, with the hopes of raising a record-high $20,000 by season’s end. The team’s current record is $17,000, but they are especially motivated to top that number and support the cause this year, with Vidal’s mother fighting her own cancer battle.



The 8th annual Benching for Breast Cancer took place on Dec. 11, 2015, and drew crowds of participants and supporters to the varsity weight room in the Hart Center. Students and student-athletes alike participate in the event, and this year, more than 575 people tried their hand at the bench press competition. All it took was a $10 donation to enter—and to get a Benching for Breast Cancer t-shirt. This year’s event raised more than $2,500 for Pink Revolution, a local breast cancer awareness and fundraising nonprofit organization. ■

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