The Saginaw Valley State University Athletic Department has been awarded the Community Engagement Award from the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) for the 2014-15 academic year. It is the sixth time that the department has been honored for its community activities.
The event that earned the SVSU Athletic Department the award was the Cardinal Kids Club Kick-off Event, which featured a membership drive for the Cardinal Kids Club and a free football clinic. The CKC Kick-off was open to the general public and served as the first official event that triggered a series of seven free sports clinics (Community Youth Days) for the 2014-15 season. The clinic was held on August 24, 2014 for kids in grades K-8. During registration for the event, inflatables were available for play and kids entered for chances to win prizes, including replica jerseys of former SVSU football players who currently play in the National Football League. After the free clinic, the SVSU football team signed autographs and took pictures with the kids.
The 2014 Kick-off event registered 75 kids for the Cardinal Kids Club and there were a total of 111 children who attended the free football clinic. Post-event membership numbers for the club grew to 111. The club provides kids and families the opportunity for first hand interactions with the SVSU student-athletes, helping them relate to them on a more personal level when they attend various athletic contests throughout the year. Many more families are now seen in the stands at athletic contests because of the positive experiences the kids and parents have being a part of the Cardinal Kids Club.
Saginaw Valley created the Cardinal Kids Club in 2009 with the intent to bring families with young children in the Great Lakes Bay Region to the campus of SVSU to engage in the Cardinal Athletics experience. Members of the club are exposed to not only the athletic contests and discounts on camps, but they have the opportunity to continually interact with SVSU student-athletes, coaches, other athletic department staff, and their favorite Coop the Cardinal.
"Our Community Youth Day series provides the youth of the Great Lakes Bay Region an opportunity to learn basic skills from our talented coaches and student-athletes," stated Angela Pohl, Associate Athletic Director and Senior Woman Administrator. "With community engagement being such an integral part of the NCAA Division II initiative, we are proud to champion that effort year after year and look forward to hosting the kids and their families on campus where they can be both a participant and a spectator. The contributions from our entire athletic department and community partner, Catholic Federal Credit Union have been instrumental in the community youth days long standing success and popularity."
This 2015 GLIAC Community Engagement Award marks the third time that the SVSU Athletic Department has received the honor from the league in the seven years since its inception. SVSU has garnered recognition from the NCAA in the 2010, 2011 and 2012 seasons as well for the Community Youth Days, Trunk or Treat Around the Track and Breast Cancer Awareness events, respectively.
In 2015, SVSU received the Community Engagement classification from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, a distinction achieved by only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities. By their senior year, 84 percent of students have engaged with community employers and agencies in internships, field placements or some other component of their academic preparation. National research has shown that students who are engaged in the community and on campus are more likely to be successful academically, and to have the critical thinking, problem-solving skills, self-efficacy, and adaptability desired by employers.
"This newest award exemplifies how community engagement extends across the campus of SVSU," said Dr. Deborah Huntley, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. "Whether it is academic or athletic-based involvement in the community, our students act as positive role models for area youth to achieve excellence."
Community engagement is an important Division II initiative directed at building meaningful, long-lasting bridges among athletics programs, their institutions and the communities in which they are located.