Athletics stresses community service

Saints’ move to NCAA Div. II brings service, other core values to forefront

Photo contributed
Flagler volleyball players traded their volleyballs for paint brushes on Feb. 24 as they pitched in to paint a home with St. Johns County Habitat for Humanity.

By Devon Jeffreys

As Flagler athletics moves to the NCAA Div. II level, they’re forming a partnership with Habitat for Humanity to give back to the community.

On Feb. 24, the Flagler volleyball team took the first step in this partnership by volunteering to paint the inside of a home constructed by Habitat for Humanity.

“It was great team bonding and great to give back to the community,” volleyball player Caitie Culleton said. “We are so surrounded by Flagler. It is good to help people that are not as fortunate.”

According to Coach Taylor Mott, when members of the Athletic Department attended the NCAA convention last summer, they saw the relationship between NCAA Div. II and Habitat for Humanity.

“The group that Div. II really supports is Habitat for Humanity, so we thought we might as well jump on the bandwagon,” Mott said. “We felt, with our move to NCAA, we should start working with that organization.”

Mott was pleased with what her team took out of the experience, as well as the commitment of Habitat for Humanity.

“I think it’s a really good organization because the people that they’re building houses for have to put in quite a bit of service on their own,” Mott said. “It’s not like you’re just giving someone a free house.”

Habitat for Humanity calls this “sweat equity.” The people work on their own house as well as the homes of others. They also must have a down payment and make monthly mortgage payments.

According to Mott, the partnership is a part of something bigger that NCAA Div. II is doing to separate itself from NCAA Div. I.

“The Div. II motto is so different than Div I,” she said. “They really put a lot of stock in how you give back what you do. I think even the funding we’ll receive once we’re full members of the NCAA depends on how much community service we do.”

The new motto for Div. II is “I choose Div. II.”

In setting itself apart from Div. I, Div. II has set its core values as: resourcefulness, balance, passion, sportsmanship, learning and service.

“They feel like that is what a Div. II athlete is,” Mott said. “Where as Div. I is TV, money. Div. II has finally stood up and said, ‘We’re not Div. I. We don’t want to be Div. I. We are separate. We are more about the well rounded athlete.’ Everyone has always compared Div. I and Div. II and they’re not even close.”

For Flagler, the move to Div. II has been centered on credibility. There was a perceived lack thereof when Flagler was in the NAIA.

“The way the NCAA does things is so much more credible,” Mott said. “They demand that you follow the rules and regulations that they have and in that is community service, good sportsmanship and good student athlete academics. They hold you to a higher standard, but the reward is higher as well.”

Mott and Athletic Director Dave Barnett agree that community service is important.

“I think our athletes and our coaches need to do community service,” Barnett said. “It’s a way to expose the college and help worthy causes.”

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