March 8, 2013
PITTSBURGH - Alec Sheaffer of the Pitt swimming and diving team has been selected to represent the Panthers as she and other student-athletes from Atlantic Coast Conference universities travel to Vietnam this summer and `Coach for College.'
'Coach for College' is an ACC initiative started by Duke University students in 2007 to promote higher education globally through sports. 'Coach for College' seeks to capitalize on the popularity of sports to reintegrate into universities two groups currently on the margins: disadvantaged youth in rural parts of developing countries who have difficulties accessing higher education, and student-athletes at American universities whose year-round commitment to sports prohibits them from having the same civic engagement opportunities as other college students.
"I am looking forward to the opportunity to make an impact in the lives of others; however, I am also expecting to be impacted by the Vietnamese children as well," Shaeffer said. "Being able to travel for such a fulfilling occasion makes `Coach for College' the perfect opportunity."
The main purpose of the program is to help solve some of the challenges faced by higher education institutions in America and developing countries such as Vietnam, by encouraging youth from rural parts of these countries to fully participate in pursuing further educational opportunities and by encouraging athletes at American universities to develop and pursue passions outside of sport which enhance their academic and personal development. The second purpose of this program is to build relationships across cultures and nationalities through the positive collaborative nature of volunteer service and sports.
The goal of this program is to provide youth with new sports infrastructure and equipment, as these must be in place before youth are able to derive the many benefits that can come from playing sports. To this end, a multi-function "all-sports court" is built on the grounds of partner middle schools by a local construction company, financed by funds raised for the program. The court contains lines and court surfaces painted to allow for the play of the five "court" sports (basketball, indoor soccer, tennis, volleyball, and badminton), as well as a roof, a fence surrounding the perimeter, a storage shed for equipment, and a covered area for spectators. The equipment used in the program is donated to the school at the end of the camps.
"Alec has developed so quickly in one year of diving that she made the scoring squad at Big East," head coach Chuck Knoles said. "It is that kind of determination that makes her an exceptional student and athlete. We are not surprised that Alec was selected for the "Coach for College" initiative, but are honored that she gets to represent Pitt swimming and diving and the University of Pittsburgh for what is such a good cause."
To learn more about `Coach for College,' visit their website by clicking here.