For the fifth time in the award's six-year existence the Sacred Heart University Department of Athletics has won the Northeast Conference Building Communities Award. The award is presented annually to the NEC member institution that demonstrates the highest dedication to making an impact in the community.
"Among the many accomplishments of our student-athletes, winning the NEC Building Communities Award is by far the most satisfying," said Executive Director of Athletics Bobby Valentine. "Giving of oneself for the betterment of others is a noble act. It is heartwarming to see our student-athletes take such an interest in these causes and watch them grow as a result."
SHU student-athletes totaled 8,391.5 hours of community service, 7,720.25 of which were applicable to the Building Communities Award. Pioneers took in a wide array of community service events, including the May Fairfield Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event in Fairfield. SHU sent 520 holiday cards to troops serving abroad, the second-highest total of universities nation wide. Teams took part in the University's Thanksgiving Turkey Drive, as well as reading to students in local elementary schools.
"I am very proud of our student-athletes and the leadership role they often take when it comes to community service on this campus. To contribute 9,000 hours of service is an incredible accomplishment," said SHU President John J. Petillo. "Whether they are putting on high heels for Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, reading to or mentoring area school children, collecting food for the hungry or raising scholarship money through the CT Bike Challenge, they are as dedicated to the community as they are on the courts and fields."
The Building Communities Award presented by Bayer was conceived by the NEC Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) as a means of recognizing the institution that demonstrates the highest dedication to making an impact in the community. As part of its corporate partnership with the NEC, Bayer, one of the world's foremost life sciences companies specializing in human, animal and plant health, is recognized as the presenting sponsor of this prestigious honor. Bayer's support of this program includes a donation to the charity of the winning institution's choice.
Bayer will present SHU with an honorarium for winning the award. The Pioneers will utilize that donation to increase its program of bringing students from Bridgeport schools to campus for educational sessions.
"This is the award that I most want our department to win every year," said Becky Kregling, 23-year head bowling coach. "I tell my student-athletes that this is the time of their life that they have time to give to others and by giving their time to others, they will help others and grow from it. Winning this award makes me especially proud to be a Pioneer today."
The bowling team averaged 38.1 hours of community service per member during the 2015-16 academic year. Pioneers as a group averaged 10.2 hours of community service during the year, with 12 teams reaching double-digit hours for the year. Members of the women's basketball and women's soccer teams averaged 23.6 hours, with equestrian student-athletes contributing 20.3 hours per person during the year.