Athletics News

Student-Athlete Service Rounds Out Championship Year for GW in 2013-14

May 29, 2014

Creating Champions in Competition, in the Classroom and in the Community. Those are the three tenets of GW Athletics.

In 2013-14, George Washington men's tennis won its third Atlantic 10 title in four seasons, while the women's squash program claimed the B-Division national championship with its best season in program history. Champions in competition - check.

Also this past season, 94 GW student-athletes were among the 6,400 George Washington students to graduate on the National Mall, with one of those student-athletes, women's soccer's Jane Wallis, earning the university's highest award - the George Washington Award. 11 student-athletes were named Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholars this year and two student-athletes, lacrosse's Terasa Vassallo and men's tennis' Ulrik Thomsen were recognized with University Outstanding Academic Achievement Awards for finishing in the top two percent of their respective schools by GPA. 286 student-athletes also claimed Athletics Academic Dean's List honors in the fall with a GPA greater than 3.0. Champions in the classroom - check.

As importantly, however, and more importantly to the thousands of lives touched across the Washington area, it was the 8,471 community service hours in over 50 different service projects performed by GW student-athletes that had an indelible impact.

Spearheaded by life skills coordinator Ted Costigan, GW student-athletes supported the community that supported them throughout the 2013-14 academic year.

Paced by men's water polo's Adam Streeter and women's squash's Jackie Shea, approximately 430 student-athletes performed an average of nearly 20 hours of service each. Streeter worked with the DC Reads program to mentor fifth and sixth grade students in English and mathematics on a weekly basis, while Shea spent the duration of her winter break in an orphanage in Tanzania working with a group of social workers in caring for over 80 children. Men's cross country and women's squash - champions in more than one realm - claimed GW Athletics' Raise High Our Community team awards for performing the most service per student-athlete.

Five years after First Lady Michelle Obama acknowledged the efforts of the university in her Commencement address, service has become a way of life at GW, and the Athletics Department has mirrored the university's passion. The university at large amassed 403,146 service hours last year, more than four times the 100,000-hour goal that was met to land Mrs. Obama as the keynote speaker five years ago. In the last five years, the university has accounted for nearly one and a quarter million volunteer service hours performed around the globe.

In Athletics, while more than 50 different projects saw student-athlete participation, five became hallmarks of the department's drive.

The Grassroot Project - an HIV/AIDS awareness program administered in multiple different middle schools across the city; especially in neighborhood schools with high HIV/AIDS rates - recently celebrated a five-year milestone that saw 180 volunteers collectively donate more than 3,500 hours of their time to the cause since 2009.

"As student-athletes it is our responsibility to represent GW with the utmost integrity on the field as well as in our community," noted Wallis. "Working with The Grassroot Project the past four years has been one of the most rewarding experiences and I look forward to watching the program expand and grow in the future."

Through the College For Every Student program, GW student-athletes mentored sixth and seventh grade students in math and English, helping to identify routes to college for some of the city's most disadvantaged youth.

At St. Mary's Court, an elderly living facility, Colonials assisted by cleaning, setting up their personal electronics and doing errands - and highlighted by playing Bingo on Saturday nights.

The Grate Patrol packaged breakfast and lunches for homeless persons, and distributed nutritious meals around D.C. on weekends.

Also, ahead of Lemonade Day, student-athletes partnered with the Business School to teach middle school students entrepreneurial skill sets, and the young students then set up their own profitable lemonade stands.

By helping the city's youth, elderly, sick and impoverished, GW student-athletes were champions of the community indeed. Check.