Oberlin Athletics Receives NADIIIAA Community Service Award


Photo Courtesy of Thomas Hill

Kids and parents participated in Track or Treat, one of the community service events organized by SAAC.

Oberlin College Athletics was recognized for its community service efforts this past semester with the NADIIIAA Array of Projects Award, which is given each year to a school that interacted with and helped its community in many different ways. Over the 2021–22 academic year, Oberlin students participated in 10 events that raised funds and awareness for various causes. Teams and organizations carried on the tradition of events like Track or Treat and Helping Hands in addition to creating new events.

One event, the Shoes andClothes for Kids raffle, was organized solely by teams. SC4K distributes shoe vouchers to children and families in need so that they can pick out their own shoes and have autonomy over their attire. They also distribute brand-new clothes including socks, underwear, and school uniforms. The softball and women’s basketball teams sold raffle tickets at a Cleveland Browns game, and all of the proceeds of the raffle were donated to SC4K.

Zoe Kuzbari OC ’22, the co-president of SAAC for fall 2022, said that community outreach has been something that SAAC has been working on since her time with the organization.

“When I got back to school after my gap year during COVID, I wanted to find a way to get SAAC more in touch with the surrounding community,” Kuzbari wrote in an email to the Review.

Track or Treat, organized by Oberlin’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, has been a staple of Oberlin’s community service engagement over the past decade. In October, every sports team on campus sets up a booth with candy and an activity that typically pertains to that team’s sport. Kids and their families are encouraged to visit each booth to pick up their candy and have fun with the Oberlin student body.

Fourth-year and captain of the women’s tennis team Dina Nouaime has enjoyed participating in Track or Treat for the last four years.

“Track or Treat is honestly one of my favorite events organized by SAAC, especially because of its level of involvement with the greater Oberlin community,” Nouaime said. “There’s such a sense of camaraderie on the track, with the teams dressing up according to their own chosen themes and kids running around every which way. This past year, I saw a fair amount of familiar, returning faces throughout the crowds of kids, which was really heartwarming to see a prolonged interest in athletics. It’s such an incredible opportunity to be able to pass my team’s love of tennis on to what might be the next generation of tennis players.”

SAAC also put together Helping Hands. Before winter break, every sports team sponsors a family in need and purchases the gifts that they have requested. Oberlin athletes wrap new gifts — ranging from basketballs to scooters — in colorful packaging sure to brighten a child’s holiday season. Kuzbari greatly enjoyed working closer with kids this year and hopes that it can continue to be a long lasting tradition.

“Since I’ve been involved in SAAC for some time, I normally would ask to get the child who I knew I could pick a good gift for, so that they can really enjoy what our team was gifting them,” she wrote. “This past year though, I got to wrap my presents with the new assistant men’s basketball coach’s daughter, Vivian. She is the sweetest little girl and that will be a special memory for me! I love kids and always hoped that we could do something in person with the families we get gifts for.”

Another event SAAC engineered that directly affected the Oberlin student body was the One Love workshops. One Love is an organization focused on raising awareness of unhealthy and abusive relationships and training people to spot and help those being abused in whatever ways they safely can. SAAC members who were trained by One Love held two workshops: one for men and one for women and non-binary people. These workshops started and promoted awareness of unhealthy relationships and successfully made Oberlin a safer campus and community.

Overall, 1,232 Oberlin athletes participated in over 2,000 hours of community service.