The Webster University athletic department learned early last week that it was the recipient of the Community Service Award, sponsored by the National Association of Division III Athletic Administrators (NADIIIAA) and Jostens.
The award, which recognizes “impressive community service projects performed by student-athletes” according to a press release, was a result of the athletic department’s involvement with the UrbanFUTURE tutoring program.
The UrbanFUTURE program is now in its third consecutive semester at Webster. It brings student athletes to Froebel Elementary School in St. Louis to tutor fourth-grade and fifth-grade students in math and reading.
The Community Service Awards were divided into three categories: one-time projects, ongoing projects and an array of projects. Webster won an award of merit in the ongoing project category, along with Allegheny College in Pennsylvania.
Winners in each of the categories received a commemorative trophy and a $1,000 contribution to a scholarship fund. The University of Pennsylvania at Bradford won in the ongoing category, Salisbury University in Maryland won for one-time project and Wittenberg University in Ohio won for an array of projects.
“It’s a good recognition of the department’s mission,” Sports Information Director Niel DeVasto said. “To have an excellent education in the classroom and the field of competition, but part of the mission of the department is to have that education extend to community service.”
Director of Athletics Tom Hart submitted a statement that summarized the UrbanFUTURE program and Webster’s involvement with Froebel Elementary. Including Webster, 17 schools received awards. There are over 400 Division III institutions nationwide.
“All community service provides a value,” Hart said. “In this situation, hopefully our student athletes aren’t doing it for awards, but it is always nice to be recognized for your efforts.”
Though the announcement of the award came out on Jan. 3, Hart and DeVasto only found out the department had won when the plaque arrived late last week. Hart said the plaque will be displayed proudly in the University Center’s trophy case.
“The biggest thing I’m confident of is we’re going to continue to do our work,” Hart said. “If recognition comes, great. If not, at least we know we’re helping out those fourth- and fifth-graders at Froebel Elementary.”