Posted by: allisonbarnes | May 1, 2011

UNC Student-Athletes Travel to Vietnam

In 2006 only 2 percent of the Vietnamese population received 13 years of education. Parker Goyer, a former Duke Tennis player, noticed the disparity between higher education in the US and Vietnam and wanted to make a change. She created a program called Coach for College, which uses the skills student-athletes have in their sport to motivate youth to seek higher education. 15 UNC student-athletes wanted to be a part of that change and will be traveling to Vietnam this summer to participate in Coach for College.

Coach for College is a program where American collegiate student-athletes and bilingual Vietnamese college students partner together to teach lower secondary students in rural Vietnam. American student-athletes teach a sport- soccer, basketball, tennis or volleyball- and an academic- physics, morality, English and health- to try to motivate students to excel in the classroom. The program uses sport analogies to motivate students to seek higher education during four 3 week sports-learning camps.

For Senior Swimmer Ashley Miller, deciding to participate in Coach for College was a no-brainer.

“I wanted to broaden my horizons by traveling outside of the US, especially because it was really difficult to travel with swimming,” said Miller. “Essentially I kind of thought it was a win-win, we help them with sports and higher education and they help us to appreciate a different culture and learn about ourselves while we are there.”

The program not only serves youth in rural Vietnam, but also collegiate student-athletes who typically don’t have the opportunity to travel abroad or to see other cultures.  CFC develops a student-athletes’ leadership skills and generates  future leaders who can rely on the experiences they received through the program to make a positive difference in the world.

UNC Swimmer Andy Brake's involvement with CFC has introduced him to other opportunities in helping others. Brake leaves in June for Liberia where he will serve in the Peace Corps.

Andy Brake, a senior UNC Swimmer, is a prime example of that. Brake participated in the program for two years as an American Coach and then as an American Director.

“I think CFC is a great way for student-athletes to travel abroad and gain an experience they may not otherwise have,” said Brake. “CFC gives ACC student-athletes a chance to help a group of people who really need it, and from there I think many people bring those experiences home and help in their own communities more.”

The experiences that Brake received from CFC has shaped his after graduation plans. On June 8, 2011, Brake will leave for Liberia as a Peace Corps member where he will live and serve in Liberia until August 2013.

The program has expanded over its pilot summer in 2008.  CFC started off with 20 student-athletes from Duke and UNC in 2008, serving 250 Vietnamese students in Hoa An.  It expanded the following summer to include two other rival schools in the ACC, Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia, serving a little over 350 Vietnamese students. This summer the program has expanded to two locations, Hoa An and Thuan Hung, and will include student-athletes from all 12 Universities in the ACC. This summer over 60 American student-athletes will have the opportunity to participate, serving over 1,000 Vietnamese students.

Interested in helping? $45 allows for one Vietnamese student to participate in a 3 week CFC camp. To help with the student’s expenses, American Coaches and Directors are encouraged to raise $1,500. If you are interested in helping to donate, click HERE.  Once you are on the page, scroll down and select the student-athlete you wish to donate to. A list of UNC student-athletes are listed below.

15 UNC student-athletes, representing 7 athletic teams, are participating in Coach for College for Summer 2011:

Women’s Golf: Jordan Allyne

Women’s Rowing: Elizabeth Teel, Jasmine Dennis, Josephine Kooijman, Lindsay Newman

Women’s Swimming & Diving: Allison Barnes, Ashely Miller, Katura Harvey

Women’s Tennis: Haley Hemm

Women’s Gymnastics: Christine Nguyen, Kara Wright

Women’s Fencing: Gladys Manzur

Men’s Fencing: Kevin Nadeau, Joe Alter

Posted by: allisonbarnes | April 22, 2011

UNC Student-Athletes Go Green

UNC student-athletes handed out seeds to 3rd graders at Glenwood Elementary School to support "Going Green"

Ask someone on campus what their favorite color is and majority of them will say Carolina Blue. And for the freshmen who say “baby blue” they will quickly learn to correct themselves. But today is Earth Day and all the talk is on Green. On April 13, UNC student-athletes hosted a field day at Glenwood Elementary School to teach students about “Going Green.”

UNC student-athletes have been visiting with Ms. Cho and Mrs. White’s 3rd grade class since the beginning of the semester through the Adopt a Classroom program.  Adopt a Classroom is a program in which UNC student-athletes visit a class on a weekly basis to teach a lesson on a particular topic that the students are learning that week.  April’s theme was Going Green, so student-athletes taught  about the 3 R’s: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

Sophomore Wrestler Chris Woltz partnered with a student during the three-legged race.

A few weeks prior to the Field day, Junior Men’s Golf player Patrick Barrett read a book to students about the importance of helping the environment.

“It was really cool when some of the kids recognized us from when we came to their class a couple of weeks ago,” said Barrett. “Some of the kids remembered my name as soon as they saw me.”

The event consisted of four different stations, including a golf ball and spoon relay, a three-legged race, a ball relay and a football toss. At the end of the activities, the UNC Football team challenged  the 3rd graders to a tug o’ war contest. Unfortunately for the guys,  Ms. Cho and Mrs. White’s class came out victorious!

“At the end of the day, one student remarked to another, ‘This was the best day ever!’ The two 3rd grade classes involved in the field day were certainly the envy of the rest of the Glenwood students!” Exclaimed Mrs. White.

After all the activities were over, students were given a dixie cup that had a seed in soil to plant when they got home. Planting the seed served as a reminder to the students to remember the lesson that the UNC student-athletes taught them earlier in the month: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

“The students’ self-esteem was sky-high that day…they were receiving special attention from athletes they admire and recognize,” said Mrs. White. “To them, the athletes represented character traits we have been studying in school: determination, success, and talent, all built upon teamwork and positive dispositions.”

Over 60 3rd graders were present along with 9 UNC teams: Men and Women’s Golf, Men and Women’s Swimming, Men and Women’s Lacrosse, Football, Rowing and Wrestling.

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Posted by: allisonbarnes | April 17, 2011

A Dad is Forever

UNC Strength and Conditioning Coach Greg Gatz spoke to fathers at Frank Porter Graham Elementary School as part of the All Pro Dads program.

Today marks the 2 month countdown for Father’s Day. This may sound a little silly to have a countdown for a holiday that doesn’t receive as much attention as  other favorites, but it should. No matter who you were raised by, the memories and the lessons someone teaches you last a life time. UNC Strength and Conditioning Coach Greg Gatz understands the importance of family. On March 3, Gatz spoke at the “All Pro Dads”  breakfast at Frank Porter Graham Elementary School.

The All Pro Dad’s Day is a part of the Family First innovative program, which provide programs that encourage family relationship building.  Schools host a one-hour monthly breakfast before school where fathers and their children discuss a range of family topics to strengthen their relationships, and find new ways to spend more time together. March’s theme was “A Dad is Forever.”

“I think events like this are great because it reinforces the importance of a stable family life and the parents’ life-long commitment to supporting their children,” said Gatz.

Gatz spoke to fathers about encouraging their children through adversity and remembering that being a dad is a full-time job for life.

“I started my talk off by saying how neat it was to be able to slow our busy days down and be able to converse and share a meal with our kids,” said Gatz. “I thought they were very receptive to the message that family is important.”

Gatz is one of the Strength and Conditioning Coaches at UNC. He is known for not only his role as a supportive father, but also as a strength coach to many UNC student-athletes.

Posted by: allisonbarnes | April 12, 2011

Newton Invited to Share Student Spotlight About Courage

Senior Women's Lacrosse player was named March's Spotlight Student of the Month.

Courage is a common trait that many strive for but can mean different things from one person to the next. Everyone has fears: heights, public speaking, failure… but the mind-set and spirit one has to overcome those fears is what courage is all about. Many UNC student-athletes have to overcome fears throughout their college career and senior Women’s Lacrosse player Meredith Newton is no different. On March 3, Newton was selected as Carrboro Elementary School’s Spotlight Student of the month for the courage she faced after recovering from an injury her sophomore year.

Carrboro Elementary School holds monthly “Spotlight Breakfasts” for students who exemplify the theme of the month. March’s theme was courage.  Students were selected by their teachers and peers, and then were invited to enjoy a breakfast with their parents and the guest speaker of the month.

“I had a blast speaking with the kids,” said Newton. “Each kid deserved being recognized and I was honored that I was able to speak to them on a topic that they obviously have demonstrated as one of the their strengths.”

Students were recognized for exemplifying courage by receiving a Spotlight Student certificate and a note from their teachers about why each student was being recognized. Newton then  spoke to students about what courage meant to her, and how she has had to display courage when overcoming obstacles as an student-athlete at UNC.

Newton takes a picture with a group of students, one of who is UNC Athletic Director Dick Baddour's grandson, who was being recognized for displaying courage in the classroom.

“I told the kids about an injury I suffered going into my sophomore year,” said Newton. “I told them the challenges I faced in recovering from the injury, with fitness and working my way back into playing.”

And Newton excelled. Newton was dedicated to her rehab and was back to normal as she made the starting line-up for the national championship game. Newton also gave students valuable tips on how they could show courage in the classroom and their daily lives.

  1. Work hard in whatever you are interested in, whether that’s academics or sports,  to grow confidence
  2. Look at the bigger picture even in times when its hard to exhibit courage
  3. Stay positive
  4. Don’t be afraid to face challenges. You wont exhibit courage if you never face challenges

Newton was impressed that Carrboro Elementary school had a program like the Student Spotlight that honors students on a monthly basis. She was also impressed that the students were so eager to talk with her even though she did not participate in a more dominant sport like Football or Basketball.

“The kids were so excited to hear me talk even though I am just a Women’s Lacrosse player,” said Newton. “But that just goes to show you the platform we have as student-athletes and the positive impact we can make on kids lives.”

April’s Student Spotlight theme is Self-Discipline. Teachers and peers are looking for students who are hard workers in the classroom and students who always give a 100 percent effort, another character trait that UNC student-athletes can relate with.

Posted by: allisonbarnes | March 31, 2011

One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish

Senior Swimmer Ashley Miller reads to a group of second grade students

You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself, any direction you choose… Dr. Seuss books have been popular among generation after generation. Memories of reading classics such as Green Eggs and Ham is something that college students remember today.  On Friday student-athletes from the UNC Swimming & Diving team shared one of their most fond memories by reading Dr. Seuss books to New Hope Elementary School students.

“I have not read a lot of these books since I was in grade school, so it was fun to see that kids are still enjoying the same stories,” said senior swimmer Ashley Miller.

Dr. Seuss characters were roaming the hallways from the Cat in the Hat to Thing 1 and Thing 2, to even Daisy-Head Mayzie. UNC student-athletes along with Duke student-athletes have participated in the annual Dr. Seuss reading day for the past 10 years.

“Students always look up to the athletes,” said Pam Lamason, one of New Hope’s reading resources and Thing 1 for the day. “I know that the athletes are busy and its means so much that they take time out of their busy schedules to come and read to these impressible children who look up to them.”

The UNC student-athletes weren’t the only ones leaving an impression. Junior diver Jenna Moore had the opportunity to read to a small group of special needs students.Junior Diver Jenna Moore reads to a group of students at New Hope Elementary School

“It turns out that the children I read to brought more joy to me than I could have possibly given to them,” said Moore. “The students I was reading to were nonverbal, but the pure happiness in their expressions, and the joy in their reactions brought a smile to my face and touched my heart.”

Both UNC and Duke student-athletes had a blast reading to the kids. The ones who aren’t graduating in May are excited to return next year.

“The athletes who came were very positive and enthusiastic,” said Lamason. “The students at New Hope enjoyed listening to the readers from UNC.”

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Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So… get on your way!

Posted by: allisonbarnes | March 23, 2011

UNC Women’s Soccer Visits Habitat During the Off Season

UNC Women's Soccer participated in Habitat for Humanity on Feb. 19.

The UNC Women’s Soccer team is very busy during the fall, with their first tournament the weekend before classes start to the NCAA Tournament during Thanksgiving. Finding spare time can be hard to come by. But the team makes time and makes sure to give back to the community that supports them. On Feb. 19 the UNC Women’s Soccer team participated in a Habitat Build for Habitat for Humanity of Orange County.

Like other teams before them– Women’s Golf, Gymnastics, and Rowing– the Women’s Soccer team represented Carolina Athletics as one of the Champions for UNC’s Build a Block. Build a Block is a campus wide initiative that hopes to build  10 homes for 10 families in 10 months by and for the UNC community. The initiative was created in the fall by the UNC Habitat club when news that a record number of University and UNC Hospital employees had applied for Habitat housing.

“As soccer players I think it’s a really big deal to give back because the Chapel Hill community is so supportive,” said junior Emmalie Pfankuch.  “We always have really good crowds at our games, so this is a chance to thank them for their support, and to also reach out beyond the campus and get involved in something bigger.”

Several members of the Women’s Soccer team have volunteered with Habitat in the past, but Feb. 19 was the first time that the team participated together.  After just one visit, the team is ready to go back again!

“It gives us a chance to reach out to the community and show student-athletes doing more than just playing our sport,” said Pfankuch.

The UNC Women’s soccer teams also participates in other outreach activities throughout the year including Carolina Dreams, Adopt a Family, and Adopt a Classroom.

Posted by: allisonbarnes | March 22, 2011

UNC Rowing Visits Charles House

While the UNC Rowing team visited with participants at the Charles House, they demonstrated how team work was needed in order to be successful.

With the N.C. Children’s Hospital so close to campus, volunteering for the kids is common among the UNC population. There are so many great opportunities to help the children that at times other groups can go unnoticed.  One group in particular is the elderly.  But on Feb. 16 the UNC Rowing team visited with patients at the Charles House.

Charles House is an elderly day facility located in Carrboro, NC.  The House offers participants a place to interact with people in the community while also offering support to their families.  Every day Charles House schedules at least 2 activities for participants, ranging from artist visits to preparing meals for the local homeless shelter. One of their favorite activities though is having UNC student-athletes visit and share their sports.

“We follow all sports, especially the  Tar Heels!” Exclaimed Kate Shaw, the program director at Charles House.

Shaw describes the participants at the Charles House “Tar Heels born and bred,” as there is only one Duke fan.  Because of the common love for sports, staff members try to incorporate different sports throughout the week. Since the Rowing team’s visit, the House has added rowing to their exercise routine.

During the Rowing team’s visit, participants learned how the student-athletes work together as a team while competing. They demonstrated how they rowed and showed pictures and videos of their competitions during snack time.

“The participants loved the small group feel and being able to get close to the athletes,” said Shaw.

One of the participants was so excited to have the team visit that he returned to the House after an appointment. But he didn’t come alone. He was so excited that he wanted to share the experience with his wife.

“Although some of our participants have trouble sharing the details of their day with loved ones, they respond to the positive energy and enthusiasm the teams bring to us,” said Shaw. “I’ve heard them say ‘We had the UNC Athletes come to visit us today’. It makes them feel very involved in their community.”

Shaw had nothing but praise for the UNC Rowing team and other UNC athletic teams.

“I know they’re extremely busy and they spend their breaks training,” said Shaw. “For them to give up any of their time when they aren’t studying or in class or participating,  it’s just amazing that they give back to the elderly.

The UNC rowing team has visited the Charles House twice so far this academic year. The team hopes to return again after their season is over.

Posted by: allisonbarnes | March 17, 2011

Gymnastic Breaks Record While Promoting Get REAL & HEEL

With St. Patrick’s Day just a few hours away its hard to think of anything that doesn’t involve shamrocks or the color green. But in celebration of last month’s Valentines Day, I wanted to share how luck wasn’t needed to break the attendance record for a gymnastics meet at Carmichael Arena. On Feb. 14, the Women’s Gymnastics team hosted its second Health Fair with Get REAL & HEEL before the University of Maryland Gymnastics Meet.

The UNC Gymnastics team is involved with an array of outreach activities.  After a team member’s mother was diagnosed with cancer in 2005, the team has been dedicated to programs that provide cancer support. Since then the team has organized two health fair events to provided information about services and programs that can help families cope with cancer.

Get REAL & HEEl, along with the Pink Pacers, offered activities such as face-painting, hair-styling , and nail painting for two hours before the meet against UMD.  Get REAl & HEEL also sold shirts and baked goods, raising $1,700 for the organization, while handing out information packets and performing fitness testings.UNC Professor Debra Murray has been cancer-free since the Fall of 2008.

Get REAl & HEEl offers classes that help survivors through therapy and exercise classes. One of those survivors is UNC Health Education Professor Debra Murray. Murray was diagnosed in the Spring of 2008 after she discovered a lump that a mammogram didn’t pick up. After chemotherapy and surgery, Murray has been cancer-free since November 2008.

“Get REAL & HEEL changed my life, ” said Murray. “When I came out of treatment, I was a mess. My blood levels were low and I had no balance. Going from a college athlete to not being able to stand on your own feet is hard.”

After chemotherapy, Murray participated in Get REAl & HEEL for 5 months, where the program helped her build up to 3 hours of physical activity each week along with 1 1/2 hours of recreational therapy. One type of therapy Murray enjoyed was HeartMath, a type of therapy that allows people to control their emotions by training their minds to control their heart rate. Ultimately, it teaches survivors how to relax and to block out triggers that can cause stress.

Another survivor who enjoyed the event was Dawn Porter. Porter was diagnosed with cancer in December of 2009 and has been cancer-free since January 2010.

“I think as a breast cancer survivor one often struggles with feeling alone with what you are going through,” said Porter. “Events like this lifts you up and reminds you that though each of us are walking on our own journey, there are so many people including the Women’s Gymnastics team lifting us up and allowing us to lean on them when needed.”

Get REAL & HEEL is offered to all survivors free of charge. Thanks to grants and partnerships like the UNC Women’s Gymnastics team, the program can remain free.

“It makes me extremely encouraged to have athletes who care enough to make a difference on campus,” said Murray. “Our athletes our very visible, so when they take part in a cause like this it makes a difference.”

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Posted by: allisonbarnes | March 7, 2011

Read With Me Under the Sea

On Friday Spring Break officially started for UNC students.  Some went home to visit with friends and family, while others traveled somewhere south to get a tan. No matter where you are during your week off, everyone can catch up on a good book.  There is nothing like that one book that gets you on a reading frenzy, and that is what UNC student-athletes taught students at Frank Porter Graham Elementary School. On Jan. 31  student-athletes participated in the annual ReadAThon, the school’s largest fundraiser, to get kids excited about reading.

The annual ReadAThon is a 2 week-long fundraiser where students seek pledges and then read for the amount of pledges they received. This year’s theme, Read with Me Under the Sea, turned the library into an underwater world. There were fishes flying from the ceilings, a tiki hut in the corner, and a life-size humpback whale!

The event kicked off with the aquarium brining in sea turtles and concluded with having celebrity guest readers coming in to read to the kids.  For the first time, Library Media Specialist Kathryn Cole invited community members to participate in the ReadAThon.

“We invited community leaders throughout the area… the mayor, police, local news reporters, lots of different people,” said Cole. “It was neat to get a range of different people, and having UNC student-athletes attend was nice since they are in our backyard.”

One celebrity guest was junior Tennis player Haley Hemm, who had a great time reading to a fifth grade class.

“They were so excited to be there. While I was reading some absurd fairy tale book, the kids were laughing and interjecting personal stories,” said Hemm. “After story time, they asked me a whole bunch of questions about life as a college athlete.”

Student-Athletes shared some of the great things about college life, but also talked about the amount of discipline that is needed both in their sport and in the classroom. The FPG Staff valued the insights they gave the young students about what being a college athlete is really like.

“It was neat especially for our young girls to see the female student-athletes, and be able to hear their experiences with college athletics,” said Cole.

Read With Me Under the Sea was a huge success in the amount of pledges that were received, but more importantly the new-found love for reading among the kids. Everyone involved had a great time.

“The ReadAThon was a great event because not only did it promote an essential skill and a passion for learning but it also allowed role models to inspire these youngsters, ” said Hemm. “Nothing makes me happier than to see kids excited about learning!”

Below is a video of the UNC student-athletes trip to Frank Porter Graham’s Read With Me Under the Sea ReadAThon.

Created by Kathryn Cole, FPG Library Media Specialist.

Posted by: allisonbarnes | February 26, 2011

UNC Swimmers Get Excited for ACC’s by Helping the Community

Junior UNC Swimmer Candace Cooper reads "Froggy Learns to Swim" to students in Atlanta.

Right before an ACC Championship, student-athletes are usually a bottle of nerves and anxious to compete. Whether they are excited or nervous, most are completely engulfed in their sport. But two UNC Swimmers found another way to relax their nerves while they helped out the community.

On Feb. 16, the first day of ACC’s,  Sarah Tanner and Candace Cooper took part in the ACC Outreach initiative and went to the Neighborhood Charter School in Atlanta to read to students.  Student-Athletes read “Froggy Learns to Swim,” an acceptable choice for a group of swimmers.

“It was exciting to be able to be a part of teaching the little kids about swimming and more importantly the value of courage,” said Tanner. “I’m so glad I participated in this and that the ACC offers outreach opportunities.”

Frogs are supposed to be natural swimmers, but Froggy gets nervous around the water. With a little encouragement and practice, Froggy gets over his fears and becomes an excellent swimmer.

ACC Swimmers take part in an ACC Outreach Initiative and visit Neighborhood Charter School in Atlanta.

“We were teaching them the importance of never giving up and always staying encouraged,” said Cooper. “They asked us a lot of questions… they were fun.”

Other teams that participated in the outreach activity included Duke, Miami, Boston College, NC State, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech. Once the teams arrived to the school, they paired up with someone from a different team to read and answer any questions the students might have about swimming, college athletics, or times they have had to show courage.

The UNC Women’s swim team knows a lot about the importance of never giving up.  The team challenged three-time ACC Champion UVA up until the final day of the meet. The meet came down to the last relay with UVA winning by 42 points. Even though their efforts didn’t win them gold, the girl’s team isn’t giving up. The team begins practice again on Monday to begin training for the summer season and next year’s ACC Championship.

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