Leadership, character, and boxer-briefs: Trojan Outreach Program builds solid citizens
September 3, 2012
CALGARY — As Erin Schwab and her chafing Trojan cohorts learned last summer, when you’ve got 10 kilometres of pavement to pound, comfort always trumps style.
This year, as Schwab and her colleagues from the SAIT Trojans women’s soccer program gathered at the starting line June 2 for their second crack at the Alberta Cancer Foundation’s annual Underwear Affair, an apparel change made all the difference.
“This year, we went with American Eagle men’s boxer-briefs. That was definitely better,” chuckles Schwab, the third-year apprentice coach with the Trojans women’s soccer squad. “Last year we wore tighty whities with our Spandex underneath. That . . . was probably a mistake.”
One of many projects undertaken each year by Trojans coaches and players as part of the Trojan Outreach Program, Schwab and her SAIT women’s soccer gang — including graduating players Meaghan Schnell, Courtney Thomas, Corry Schwagly, and Elise Mullen, and former assistant coach Erica Balmer — raised just over $2,600 in this year’s Underwear Affair. The annual 10K fun run and 5K walk, with participants often decked out in outlandish underwear costumes, creates awareness for women’s and men’s cancers below the waist.
“We try to co-ordinate our outfits and make it as fun as we can,” says Schwab. “They also say that a soccer player runs about 10K a game, on average. We like to put that to the test every year.”
The Trojan Outreach Program is a long-established initiative that demonstrates the SAIT Trojans’ unwavering commitment to community involvement. It also provides the pivotal third component in what the SAIT Trojans athletics department calls the three pillars of being a SAIT Trojan student athlete — academic success, athletic excellence, and community citizenship. Each year, Trojan individual athletes and teams take part in more than 30 clinics, fundraisers, and charitable events as part of the Trojan Outreach Program.
“We feel very strongly that the Trojan Outreach Program plays a critical role in developing leaders of the future,” says SAIT Trojans athletics manager Mark Pretzlaff.
“While we fully support our Trojan student athletes in the classroom and out on the playing field, community involvement is pivotal to building lifelong values such as character, tenacity, perseverance. It’s paramount in rounding out the individual.”
Other examples of Trojan Outreach Program initiatives, either from the 2011-12 season or on a traditional basis, include:
* The Catholic Family Service Athletes Mentoring Program, involving the Trojans men’s volleyball and basketball teams;
* The worldwide Movember prostate cancer awareness campaign, which saw the Trojans men’s hockey and volleyball teams raise about $6,600 last November, in partnership with the Prostate Cancer Canada Network Calgary;
* A Christmas toy drive held for the Women’s Centre of Calgary last December by the Trojans women’s basketball team;
* An annual sledge hockey game in January between the Trojans women’s hockey team and the Calgary Scorpions;
* The Calgary Herald’s annual Raise-A-Reader Day;
* And various sports clinics, including partnership ventures with local schools, Hockey Education Reaching Out Society (HEROS), Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Kids Cancer Care Alberta, and Aspen Community Services.
The most recent Trojan Outreach Program venture took place recently at SAIT’s Campus Centre, as the CTRL-F (Calgary Teamwork-Respect-Leadership-Fun) Hockey Camp was staged on Aug. 25 and 26.
Organized by Rob Kerr, the Calgary Flames’ play-by-play announcer on Rogers Sportsnet television broadcasts, the charity hockey camp for underprivileged youth saw the participation of 60 local minor hockey players from Calgary — 40 from the EvenStrength Program, a partnership between the Flames Foundation for Life, Hockey Calgary, and KidSport; and 20 more from the Calgary chapter of HEROS.
The SAIT Trojans athletics department offered Campus Centre facilities, including SAIT Arena ice rental, locker-rooms, classrooms, and use of the Campus Centre gym.
Trojans associate coach Jim McLean acted as a presenter, while four members of the Trojans men’s hockey team — forward Garrett Watson (4th year, Calgary, bachelor of business administration accounting, BCHL Westside), forward Brad Drobot (3rd year, Calgary, business administration, AJHL Calgary Royals), defenceman Joe Babey (3rd year, Calgary, architectural technologies, AJHL Drayton Valley), and forward Travis Bradshaw (4th year, Calgary, business administration, AJHL Calgary Royals) — helped out as camp leaders during weekend gym activities.
“What intrigued me about this camp was using hockey as a catalyst to create change, and to teach life skills,” says SAIT Trojans athletics director and longtime men’s hockey coach Ken Babey. “This ties into what we try to do in terms of community citizenship with the SAIT Trojans.
“Whether it’s basketball, volleyball, hockey, soccer, or cross-country running, we’re using the sport to set goals and demonstrate leadership.”
The Trojan Outreach Program has twice won a Canadian Colleges Athletic Association (CCAA) Community Service Award, in 2004 and 2007.