The MIAA (Mass. Interscholastic Athletic Association) has awarded two Archbishop Williams High School girls winter teams - basketball and hockey - with Educational Athletics Achievement Awards for Community Service. Both teams have volunteered their time on weekends to work with special needs students.
“It’s important for us to let you know that you do a great job, that you give back to the community,” said Rich Riley, Assistant Director of the MIAA during his presentation to the basketball team at home court on February 13. He followed with a presentation to the hockey team about an hour later at the Joseph Zapustas Arena in Randolph.
The AWHS basketball players taught their skills to elementary age students in the Sacred Heart Adaptive Basketball program held in the gym at Quincy Catholic Academy. The hockey team has done the same with players from the Boston Bear Cubs whose players are ages six and up. The Cubs, who play at the Canton Ice House, are affiliated with the Mass. Special Hockey Association.
Kayleen Sickorez, an AWHS basketball player, appreciated the experience with her young players. “It really opens your eyes to the kids,” she said. “You have to have a lot of patience with them.” Sickorez was particularly moved by one of her youthful players who looked forward to a return visit. “Next time can we be partners again?” the child asked.
Teammate Amanda Donoghue had a similar experience. “A lot of the kids look up to us and they’re waiting for us to get there,” she said. Donoghue appreciated how the session even benefited the elementary students’ parents. “It’s really fun and a chance to give their parents a break,” she said.
Varsity basketball coach Matt Mahoney noted the benefit to his players. “It’s good to see they are helping other people,” Mahoney said. “They put smiles on the kids faces, and give back. They absolutely love it.”
For the hockey team, the experience was no less rewarding. “It’s great to give back to something we love, and we love playing hockey,” said AWHS varsity hockey co-captain Kimberly Dunn in an earlier interview. Co-captain Hannah Bell appreciated the opportunity to serve as a role model for the Cubs. “It’s wonderful to hear them say, ‘I can’t wait to be as good as you.’”
Varsity hockey coach Mark McHale said the experience makes the students better persons. “This MIAA award for the Lady Bishops shows what Archbishop Williams High School is all about - true values, wanting to step up and help people in need,” he said. “Being involved with athletics is a wonderful thing. Our Athletic Director, Mr Gordie McClay, is true a leader and a firm believer in stepping up and having the student athletes represent the community. I have always maintained as a coach and educator, that student athletes are role models and mentors.”
McClay noted the importance of the direct contact between the athletes and their charges. “Working with those kids puts a face to those kids’ needs,” he said.
The MIAA has Five Pillars of Educational Athletics: Community Service, Wellness, Coaches’ Education, Sportsmanship, Leadership.
On its website, the MIAA explains the importance of community service. “For student-athletes, participation in interscholastic athletics is a privilege which comes with great responsibilities. Among these responsibilities is showing respect for opportunities granted and providing service so that others can experience the same opportunities. Giving back to the community is what makes student-athletes heroes in the eyes of those who look up to them.”
And that’s exactly what the basketball and hockey teams accomplished!