GWsports.com Staff Spotlight: Dr. Scarlett Schmidt
Head of GW Athletics Development Discusses Her Role in Helping Raise High the Buff and Blue
Jan. 14, 2013
GWsports.com's Staff Spotlight series periodically highlights a member of the George Washington University Department of Athletics and Recreation team. In today's feature, GW softball senior and Athletics Communications student intern Kristi Saporito sat down with Dr. Scarlett Schmidt, Associate Athletics Director and Senior Executive Director of Athletics Development.
GWsports.com: What attracted you to GW?
SS: The great opportunity that GW provides put me in a situation where I have a chance to make a difference in the lives of others. GW is a school that is currently investing in the Athletics Department. Unfortunately that's not the case on all campuses these days. I was once at an institution that cut three sports, and that's difficult. Here at GW we have a blank canvas to build upon as the Athletics Department continues to grow and evolve through the efforts of our Athletics Development office as well as the initiatives set forward by Patrick Nero. Being able to create and implement a vision is a really nice thing.
GWsports.com: What is the Buff and Blue Fund?
SS: We are the fundraising arm of the Athletics Department.
GWsports.com: In what ways can people give to GW Athletics?
SS: A GW supporter can give in a variety of ways. A donation to the general fund, which is the Buff and Blue fund, is giving to the department as a whole. If someone wanted to donate to a specific sport, that's another option. We also raise funds for capital projects - such as Barcroft Park, the Charles E. Smith Center or the renovations at Mount Vernon's Lloyd Gym - and for an annual fund, which helps offset the operating costs of the Athletics Department.
GWsports.com: What kind of programs does the Buff and Blue Fund support?
SS: We help fund all 23 sports, the Leadership Academy, which is very important to the Athletics Department, and the capital projects. We shape our work around the initiatives set forward by our Athletics Department and Athletics Director.
GWsports.com: What are the long-term goals of the Buff and Blue Fund?
SS: Our ongoing goal is to continue to increase our funding to help offset the operating budgets for our coaches. We work toward providing them with more resources to open more opportunities for their student-athletes. One initiative that we want to pursue is to allow each team, within a four-year period, to have the opportunity to take an international trip. Part of that is up to the teams to raise funds, and the other part is on us to raise funds to help support the trip. Since student-athletes typically can't spend a semester abroad, competing internationally is a great way to broaden their horizons.
GWsports.com: How do you keep student-athlete alumni engaged?
SS: Keeping our past student-athletes involved in the current happenings at GW is something that we want to get better at so we are increasing our outreach efforts. The Athletics Department reaches out by sending weekly updates to any former student-athletes who we have email addresses for (click here to sign up for GW Athletics' weekly email newsletter). This consistent update helps keep our alumni connected. We have also started a new Athletics Council with a subcommittee called the Engagement Committee that encourages alumni to update their information. If we can update information (update your information here), then we can increase the amount of people we reach and encourage to visit GWsports.com. We also have a great collaborative relationship with the Office of Alumni Relations. Working with that office has allowed us to hold more events.
GWsports.com: What have been some of the recent events hosted for alumni?
SS: We recently held a pre-game alumni event at Rutgers in addition to a young alumni reception at the BB&T Classic at Verizon Center. There was also an event in Boston during the fall at the Head of the Charles Regatta, and there is an upcoming event in Massachusetts centered around our men's basketball team playing at UMass. We are really working hard with the Office of Alumni Relations to coordinate some nice events for our alumni to keep them connected to what is currently going on within GW Athletics.
GWsports.com: What role do the current student-athletes play in making the Buff and Blue Fund a success?
SS: Current student-athletes do two things that are really important to our success. One is our student-athlete Thank-A-Thon. That provides stewardship for our donors. This involves picking up the phone and just saying `thank you.' Our seniors are the second main component of the Buff and Blue Fund. We recently began participating in the university's Senior Gift Challenge. Last year the goal of the university was to have a 50 percent participation rate for the entire senior population to give back to the university, and our student-athletes were at about 95 percent. That was fantastic. Our goal this year is to be at 100 percent. Furthermore, our student-athletes are our greatest ambassadors. We promote the athletes because that's who it's all about.
GWsports.com: What's the most rewarding aspect of your position?
SS: Knowing that I can make a difference in someone else's life. Just working to make a difference is a great feeling.
GWsports.com: What has been an "only at GW" moment you have experienced?
SS: I was getting ready to leave one day, then saw a lady running towards me, and I thought that she looked a little familiar. It turned out to be Jill Biden, the vice president's wife. She had two secret service agents running with her. To see the vice president's wife running by you is pretty exciting. That was definitely an "only at GW" moment.
GWsports.com: What does "Raise High" mean to you?
SS: To me it means to be all you can be, to be your best. Strive to be the best and take advantage of what you have available here at GW. That may mean taking advantage of living in one of the greatest cities in the world or looking around you within the Athletics Department and realizing that there are people who want to help you - athletically, academically, or professionally.