The University of Louisville Athletics Department finished second among all Division I institutions in the 2021 NCAA Team Works Service Challenge. This was the seventh annual NCAA Team Works Service Challenge, with all Division I, II, and III schools participating.
“Community engagement is a critical component of the student-athlete experience at the University of Louisville. Giving back to our community through different social initiatives, mentoring youth, supporting underserved groups and so much more, allows student-athletes to connect to the city of Louisville in wonderful ways,” said Assistant Athletic Director for Student-Athlete Leadership and Development Alyssa Murphy. “Even through the pandemic, the priority to stay engaged was even more important. Shifting the “how”, student-athletes used social media and virtual meeting platforms to be “face to face” with children enrolled in online school, supported causes of social change and advocacy during a critical time in Louisville, hosted a voter registration drive, cleaned historical parks and cemeteries in the city, wrote letters to youth groups and continued partnerships with pen pals, fostered new school partnerships and so much more.”
The NCAA Team Works Service Challenge was launched by NCAA Team Works and Helper Helper to recognize student-athletes who give back to their communities. NCAA Team Works coordinates community service efforts at NCAA championships, and Helper Helper is a volunteer management and tracking platform used by many institutions. The final standings are based on the number of service hours completed and participation of student-athletes. The Cardinals placed second this year, after winning the challenge in 2019-2020.
“UofL student-athletes were a constant presence throughout the Greater Louisville community as they created meaningful, impactful and socially distanced community service opportunities during a most challenging year with Covid-19 restrictions in place. Alyssa Murphy and her staff members were equally as committed to adjusting to the new normal of virtual and some designated in person activities as well. Kudos to all ” said Senior Associate Athletic Director Student Services & Diversity Marvin Mitchell.
The competition is typically held during the fall semester, but was held during the spring this year. It ran from January 15 through April 1. Cardinal student-athletes totaled 1,405 hours of service throughout the duration of competition, and had 94% of student-athletes participate in a service opportunity during this time period.
“In my time being a part of Louisville athletics, it is clear that giving back to the community is a major priority. The city of Louisville is a special place and we, student athletes, feel the love from the city. Especially during a year of so much struggle and uncertainty, we are glad we could bring some smiles and joy to those less fortunate,” said softball player and SAAC President Celene Funke.
Football player Evan Conley expressed his pride in community service work done by the student-athletes. “I’m so proud to be a part of a group of students that care as much about the community as much as we do here at UofL Louisville has been through a lot over the last year, but the love between the city and our Cards will always be strong,” he said. “I know all our student athletes are excited to be able to get back into the community even more and continue giving back.”
Field Hockey and Women’s Soccer led the department throughout the competition, averaging seven hours per student-athlete from January 15 to April 1. Seventeen teams had 100% participation among their student-athletes.
“I’m so proud to be a part of Louisville Athletics. Our group of student athletes care so much for the city of Louisville and every diverse part of the community,” lacrosse player Sarah Blalock said. “Louisville and the rest of the world has faced many struggles and uncertainty over this past year, but we still made it our priority to give back and be involved in our community. I know the rest of Louisville Athletics is excited to continue to find ways to give back to those less fortunate.”