February 1 2012
CoSIDA Corner: Together we can make a difference (by Gallaudet University's Sam Atkinson, Chair of the CoSIDA Goodwill and Wellness Committee)The column below, penned by Gallaudet University Sports Information Director Sam Atkinson who serves as the Chair of CoSIDA's Goodwill and Wellness Committee, appears in the February 2012 issue of NACDA's Athletics Administration Magazine.
Beginning with the 2009-10 academic year and with its new partnership with NACDA at that time, the CoSIDA leadership was invited to contribute to each issue of the Athletics Administration Magazine. In October of 2009, CoSIDA President Justin Doherty penned the first "CoSIDA Column."
This month, Atkinson writes about the work and initiatives of the Goodwill and Wellness Committee as committee members have led CoSIDA into some impressive community service outreaches and fundraising endeavors at the last three CoSIDA Conventions. Atkinson writes about the importance of "giving back" and of those in athletics dealing with health and wellness issues.
In this 2011-12 academic year, several CoSIDA leaders contributed CoSIDA Corner columns. They have been authored by CoSIDA President Tom Di Camillo, Assistant Commissioner of the Pacific West Conference (in October and November); and Rich Herman of Clarion (in December) who is the former DII-SIDA President.
Each Athletics Administration issue is sent to over 10,000 university and athletics administrators, with CoSIDA's voice, thoughts and expertise shared with these key constituents. The magazine is published each October, November, December, February, March, April, June and August.
See the CoSIDA Corner archives HERE.
By now your New Year’s resolutions have come and gone, and if you are like the rest of America, they are an afterthought. That is, if you even made any …
Let’s face it, as an athletics administrator working in the new frontier of collegiate sports where everything revolves around the 24/7 news cycle and your duties have become more and more encompassing, who has time to do something for yourself? Or, more importantly, for others?
Each day we worry about our department’s functions,team performances, game schedules, game operations, press releases, staying connected on social media, and for some, there are additional responsibilities with coaches’ contracts, TV rights, marketing, ticket sales, booster relations, etc. The list can be endless, but where does your health, the wellness of your athletics and support staff fall? What about volunteering time for community service? More often than not, there isn’t time to hit the gym, get out from behind your computer, put down your trusty smartphone or roll up your sleeves to help others.
This is where we as athletics administrators need to take a step back and reassess some of our priorities.
We are champions of our athletics teams’ efforts at the local hospital or homeless shelter. We love seeing our teams host home games clad in pink or coaches wearing tennis shoes to raise awareness for cancer research.
Yet, do we always practice what we preach to our student-athletes?
Why don’t we see more athletics staffs volunteering their time as a group to help out a local charity?
How many coaches could keep up with their players in conditioning drills?
How many of us eat a meal consisting of pizza, hot dogs, chips and sodas from the pressroom before a game?
The above questions are not saying athletics administrators need media attention or an award for doing the right thing or being in shape, but it is to stress the fact that we need to become the role models of our depart ments. We all know collegiate athletics has been hit with some tre mendously
negative news during the past year for people making the wrong decisions. Every day, we have an opportunity to make the right decision, no matter how small, that could help benefit our health, overall wellness and community. We need to begin the process of change.
It was that thinking four years ago that CoSIDA changed its dormant Charity Committee to the Goodwill Committee. A small group of us saw the need for CoSIDA to give back to the local host city where our annual convention was being held and we developed a new message that “CoSIDA Cares.”
During the 2008 CoSIDA Convention in Tampa, we planned for our first service project to be held in San Antonio the following year. In 2009, CoSIDA sent 15 volunteers to the San Antonio Food Bank to work for three hours led by CoSIDA Goodwill and Wellness Vice-Chair Ryan Klinkner, the SID at Saint John’s (Minn.) University. The Young CoSIDA group also held a charity raffle where several hundred dollars were donated to the food bank.
The following year, we introduced our first clothing donation drive during registration check-in at the CoSIDA Convention in San Francisco. We received more than 400 items, 70 of which came from the 2010 BCS National Championship Game and Rose Bowl/Tournament of Roses (valued at more than $5,000).
In addition, another charity raffle run by the Young CoSIDA group netted more than $500 that was donated to St. Anthony’s Foundation. We sent 20 volunteers to St. Anthony’s for two-hour shifts where we helped prepare food for the homeless and served lunch to 2,600 guests that day alone.
It was in San Francisco that the CoSIDA Goodwill Committee started to begin discussing the need to include wellness/health into our mission as we noticed more and more overweight and sedentary sports information professionals. The sad news of several co-workers and peers dying early because of health conditions, some of which could have been prevented if time was used to stay healthy, only fueled the movement. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one-third of U.S. adults (33.8 percent) are obese.
Last summer at Marco Island, Fla., we held our first CoSIDA 5K run/walk to help kick-off our convention. We had an impressive 96 participants, which included families and spouses, all who paid a nominal entry fee which saw all proceeds benefiting St. Matthew’s House in Naples, Fla.
More than $700 was raised through that event alone, coupled with another clothing drive of more than 100 items and a record-setting Young CoSIDA charity raffle that raised more than $900.
Clearly, the momentum of “CoSIDA Cares” is growing as it was our best Goodwill effort to date.
In three years, we have raised $2,500, donated more than 500 items and committed 80 community service hours to three different service projects and held our first fun fitness event.
During last summer’s Goodwill Committee meeting, we saw a significant increase in committee membership after we started with two members (Ryan and myself) back in 2007. To emphasize all of our efforts, the committee decided to change our official name to Goodwill and Wellness.
The 2012 Convention in St. Louis, in June, figures to be a busy one for the CoSIDA Goodwill and Wellness Committee. We are in the midst of planning our fourth service project and donation drive, second 5K run/walk and working with Young CoSIDA on another charity raffle.
We don’t plan on stopping in 2013 when the CoSIDA annual convention will be held in conjunction with the NACDA Convention in Orlando, Fla. We hope to take our Goodwill and Wellness initiatives to the next level with your help and participation and are in discussion with NACDA officials to make this happen.
In addition to community outreach, we are full bent on encouraging each collegiate athletics professional to make those little changes in his/her life now to free up more time for self-improvement and assist in improving the wellness of your staff and your surrounding community. Together we can make a difference in so many ways.