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vOften athletes are required to make community appearances to benefit the team during their careers as an athlete. Most athletes no longer participate in community activities after their career is over.

At Boston College athletes participate in community service through a program called Athletes In Service, which is coordinated by a former BC baseball coach. Athletes can get involved in the H.E.A.R. (Help Educate Through Athletic Responsibility) program where they visit local public and parochial schools to mentor youth. The BC student-athletes will act as role models for students and encourage and motivate them to work hard in school and to never give up.

BC student-athletes are also able to help package and distribute groceries for needy families in the Food for Families Program. The Boston Food Bank supplies the groceries and the BC athletes stop in once a month to help out and the food is then distributed at the Community Housing Development.

Why is it, though, that once a student-athlete ends his or her career he or she suddenly forgets his or her role in the community? Former college student-athletes have so much to offer to a community because of their experience working in communities during their college years.

Take, for example, the number of former University of Wisconsin athletes who were involved in Student-Athletes Equally Supporting Others (SAESO) who continue to serve their communities after graduation. From mentoring programs to Habitat for Humanity to other volunteer activities, former student-athletes can find a number of ways to give back to their communities.

As more former Wisconsin athletes move out of the SAESO program, more are inspired to get involved. Laura McGinnis, a junior from Middleton, Wis., became a mentor for a teen mother and her infant child and the whole experience led her to a career in counseling. Volunteering and getting involved in a community helps student-athletes see a different view of the world and enriches their life experiences.

Athletes should take advantage of their experience as well as the eye-opening possibilities in their communities. A college student-athlete has been blessed with extraordinary abilities. Getting involved in the community after graduation will allow the former student-athlete the opportunity to give something back. And by giving something back, that former student-athlete could have a dramatic effect on a community.

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