The Rhode Island College Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, Intramurals and Recreationís goal is to educate and support the "total student-athlete" with the expectation that its student-athletes will be successful citizens both on and off the competitive playing arena.
With that in mind, Rhode Island College has taken the concept of a Division III student-athlete development program to a new level. RIC first started its Student-Athlete Development Program in 1996, and in just a few short years, it has grown by leaps and bounds and now rivals many Division I programs.
The Team Mentoring Program was first instituted in 1996. RIC then became involved with the CHAMPS/Life Skills program in 1997. The Marocco Family Student-Athlete Center was opened in 1998.
Much more than just a study hall, the Marocco Center has grown into a valuable resource for all of RICís student-athletes.
The whole concept of student-athlete development continues to evolve each year. In the early stages of the programís inception, the intercollegiate athletic program was solely responsible for generating the operational funds for the program. The College now fully supports the program after seeing consistent, quality results.
Student-Athlete Development Coordinator Gail Davis says, "You donít have to look any further than last semester to see the positive results of the program. Every one of the student-athletes who attended study hall showed significant improvement academically."
The Marocco Center
The cornerstone of RICís Student-Athlete Development Program is the Marocco Family Student-Athlete Center, located in the Collegeís Intercollegiate Athletics Complex.
Established in 1998, the Center is the result of a generous gift by the Marocco Family and has become a focal point of student-athlete development programming.
The Marocco Center is staffed by a full-time coordinator and several professional staff members who provide academic counseling, tutoring, life skills support and career advising. This fully-computerized workspace can accommodate upwards of 50 student-athletes in the finest of learning environments.
The Center services the needs of hundreds of RIC student-athletes per week. Freshmen student-athletes, and those who are in academic jeopardy, are required to spend six hours per week there, both in and out of their respective seasons.
Upperclass student-athletes need to maintain minimum requirements in credits and grade point average per semester, as well as displaying satisfactory progress toward a degree.
Those who do not fulfill the necessary institutional and departmental requirements are restricted from participating in varsity athletics
The Center has evolved into an academic resource for all of the Collegeís student-athletes, not just those experiencing academic difficulty. It is a solid part of the intercollegiate athletic program where student-athletes can get sound support and advice.
The Center is open daily, six days a week, during the afternoon and evening hours to accommodate the varied schedules of RICís over three hundred student-athletes.
It takes a quality and dedicated professional staff to manage such a large and diversified student-athlete development program like the one that is offered at Rhode Island College.
The intercollegiate athletic program is extremely fortunate to have just such a group of dedicated professionals.
David Bouthillier, who was at the helm of the program during its greatest period of growth, turned the torch over to Gail Davis, who is currently responsible for the coordination of all activities associated with student-athlete development.
Davis is capably supported by a group of professionals who have extensive background in the areas of education, counseling and athletics. In addition to the regular academic year support staff, the program employs a number of adjunct professionals to coordinate a variety of educational seminars ranging from resume writing to proper eating habits for student-athletes.
In addition to the Marocco Center staff, RIC student-athletes are extremely fortunate to have additional campus resources at their disposal to assist them with their goal of academic success.
OASIS, the Collegeís office of academic support and information services, the RIC Counseling Center, the office of health promotion and the All-American Faculty/Staff Mentoring Team play a vital role in a partnership that is dedicated to student-athlete success.
"Currently, we are very fortunate to have numerous educators on our staff," Davis states. "They have a variety of knowledge and experiences to share with the student-athletes and are well-aware of the pressures involved in balancing academics and athletics."
Life Skills Program
In 1991 the NCAA Foundation initiated efforts to create a total development program for student-athletes. Through a collaborative effort, involving several NCAA affiliated groups, the CHAMPS/Life Skills Program (CHallenging Athletes Minds for Personal Success) was established.
In 1994, after several years of development by the NCAA Foundation, the CHAMPS/Life Skills Program was launched to the NCAA membership. Over 96 NCAA member institutions are now part of the CHAMPS/Life Skills Programs. The Rhode Island College intercollegiate athletic program became an active partner in 1997.
The basic mission of the CHAMPS/Life Skills Program is to support a student-athleteís development in five areas: academics, athletics, personal development, career development and community service. There is little doubt in the minds of RIC student-athletes, alumni, and members of the campus community that the College is committed to academic and athletic excellence.
There is an additional commitment to the development of the total student-athlete. Bi-weekly educational forums and seminars are held to support the development of a well-balanced lifestyle for RIC student-athletes that encourage their emotional well-being, personal growth and decision making skills. Additionally, workshops are sponsored to encourage the student-athlete to pursue career and life goals. Lastly, each RIC student-athlete is required to engage in service to his/her campus or surrounding community as part of their varsity experience.
Rhode Island College student-athletes, in conjunction with the Collegeís Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, are encouraged and supported to be active in national forums involving student-athlete development issues. Over the past few years, RIC student-athletes have participated in annual workshops and forums dealing with issues that affect student-athletes across the country, ranging from diversity to drug education to leadership.
RIC student-athletes have been represented at the NCAA Foundation Leadership Conference and the University of Virginiaís nationally acclaimed A.P.P.L.E. Conference.
All-American Mentoring Program
One of the most unique facets of the RIC Student-Athlete Development Program is the All-American Faculty/Staff Mentoring Team.
Developed in 1996, each varsity team has a volunteer mentor who is a member of either the Collegeís faculty, staff or administration. The concept behind this "team" is to have an additional academic safety net for student-
athletes in order to support the departmentís efforts with reference to academic retention, satisfactory progress and, ultimately, the successful completion of a course of study.
Each mentor meets with their team a number of times each semester. Additionally, they are required to meet with their student-athletes individually during registration periods and must approve their selection of courses. This ensures that each student-athlete is on the right track and that their athletic schedule does not conflict with their academic endeavors. The mentors also make themselves available to student-athletes for any other problems they might encounter.
The support each mentor gives goes way beyond academic progress. In almost every case, mentors and student-athletes have developed positive relationships that will last a lifetime.
The role of each varsity program is to include the mentor in many, if not all, of the teamís activities. Mentors are encouraged to attend practice sessions, athletic contests and other team events. In short, they are encouraged to be part of the "team."
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G. Gail Davis, Coordinator
Phone: (401) 456-8254