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STORRS, Conn. – A key aspect of being a UConn student-athlete is finding ways to give back to the local community. For the UConn rowing team, having that sense of community is a program priority.
Giving back to the community is a valuable part of the UConn culture, under 20-year head coach Jennifer Wendry. It’s a way for the 62 rowers on the spring roster to show their appreciation for the opportunities they have been given.
With the start of the spring season less than one month away on March 17, the Huskies continue to make their presence felt in local community work. Just this month, the rowing team is participating in a special event.
“The town of Coventry is very supportive of our team, as we row on Coventry Lake,” said freshman Kaitlyn May. “This month we’re running a food drive in Coventry to give back to those who support us.”
Freshman Kailey Crothers added, “UConn rowing is a very community-oriented team. Being a team of over 60, we are our own small community within UConn, who supports, motivates and inspires each other every day.”
The rowing team has two representatives in the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, who inform the other rowers about volunteer opportunities in the local area. All UConn teams compete for the Husky Cup, which recognizes the program with the most service accolades throughout a year.
“Being an athlete at a school like UConn means being in the public eye, which provides the perfect chance for us to help our community and hopefully inspire others to do the same,” said junior Lena Karotkin.
Outreach to the community goes beyond food donations, as engagement with members of the community – specifically kids in elementary or middle schools – is also a high point of UConn’s service.
“We value our role in the community. We have had a great chance to volunteer, like at East Hartford Middle School to give advice to the kids and enjoy a day with them,” said junior Shayla Perez, a Waterbury, Conn. native.
For the Huskies, the theme of community is a multi-faceted term – serving not just as a reminder to give to others, but also to support and acknowledge teammates on a daily basis.
“When I think about my team in regards to community, I immediately think of the support system I feel between myself and my teammates,” said junior Sierra Mazur.
Freshman Erika Yao echoed the sentiment, saying, “Community means taking time during practice to cheer on your teammates and help them achieve the team’s goals. At practice, there is so much camaraderie and support that it makes it hard to fail.”
Despite busy schedules, full of school work and practice time, the Huskies have always found time to devote to the community – and will continue stressing its importance in the future for the program.