Jeffs Prioritize In-Season Community Engagement
By Reilly Horan, CCE Athletics Liaison
Well into a very competitive fall season, the men’s cross country team has taken the time between races and practices to work on two community engagement projects.
Community Trail Clearing
At the beginning of their preseason training, the team gathered on August 31 to help clear the Emily Dickinson trail that runs between the bike path, Groff Park, and the Robert Frost trail. Armed with an array of landscaping tools, the team took the time between their morning and afternoon workouts to clear the community’s running trail of overgrowth and fallen trees.
Eli Howe ’13, who serves as the president of Amherst’s Outing Club and spent the summer working on trails and building shelters in the Mt. Toby area, knew that the college’s Department of Conservation didn’t have the work force to complete the work on the trails on their own. He contacted the department and offered his team’s services, and they gladly accepted the offer.
“We use those trails a lot,” says captain Dillon Buckley ’13. “They’re open to the public so they get a pretty wide usage. We were happy to help. It was a lot of fun, and it was great team bonding.”
“This was a great way for the team to give back to the community,” adds head coach Ned Nedeau. “We wanted to recognize the efforts that the town of Amherst and the Department of Conservation make to maintain such incredible natural resources for everyone.”
Survival Center Furniture Sale
A few weeks later, the team volunteered at the Amherst Survival Center’s annual furniture sale. The Survival Center is a regional resource that strives to provide food, health, clothing, and community to those who need it through volunteer efforts. Community members donate gently-used furniture to the Center, which in turn re-sells the items to raise money in its “Trash to Treasures” furniture sale.
The men’s cross country team assembled on September 6 and 7 and volunteered as salesmen and furniture movers for the two-day event.
“I’ll be honest, things get pretty crazy and competitive,” Buckley jokes. Many members of the team have volunteered enough years at the furniture sale to develop reputations as stellar salesmen.
“We’ve been involved with the Survival Center for a number of years,” Coach Nedeau explains. “It’s been great for the Survival Center to have the help, but just as importantly, I feel strongly that it is a great way to help my guys see the bigger picture, grow, mature, and get to know one another.”
While most members of the team are three-season student-athletes in cross country, indoor track, and outdoor track, the team prioritizes community engagement even when things are busy. Next up: every Interterm, the team volunteers at the Survival Center between practices.
“Ned has always emphasized community engagement,” Buckley reflects. “He always tells us that we make a name for ourselves in how we run and how we serve others. It’s a given. We expect it of ourselves and each other.”
Reilly Horan ’13 is one of three Athletics Liaisons for the Center for Community Engagement. Athletics Liaisons connect athletes and coaches to the resources of the Center for Community Engagement and work to create a sustainable culture of service within the Athletics Department.
If your team is looking for community engagement projects, contact Roshard Bryant ’13 at email@example.com or Irene Hickey ’13 at firstname.lastname@example.org for advice and resources.
If your team just completed a community engagement event, contact Reilly Horan ’13 at email@example.com so that the campus becomes more aware of what your team is doing to get involved.
For more information, visit the Athletics Liaisons' webpage.