In honor of NCAA Division III week, the College of Staten Island Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) invited the students from the PS 18 United Activities Unlimited (UAU) Beacon Program to an afternoon of sports clinics and fun in the CSI Sports & Recreation Auxiliary Gym on Thursday, April 11.
The event showcased CSI student-athletes from various sports, teaming up and giving the Beacon students pointers on basics, teamwork, and college life.
“The kids were so excited to be here,” expressed swimmer and SAAC member Jessica Pifalo. “I had so much fun playing basketball with them and giving them a tour of the Sports & Recreation Center while showing them how exciting it is to be a Division III athlete.”
CSI’s effort comes just in time for NCAA Division III week, a week where all DIII programs and student-athletes are recognized for their achievements and contributions to athletics and student life.
The idea originated with the help of CSI SAAC, Katie Arcuri (Assistant Athletic Director for Student Athlete Services) and Ednita Lorenzo, former CSI soccer player. “As part of UAU and as a former CSI athlete, I wanted to combine work with play,” said Lorenzo. “After several talks with Katie and SAAC President Olivia Tierno the idea of a clinic was the best opportunity to expose students to the College and what it has to offer.”
It was an immediate partnership once Beacon Director, Guillermo Grau, heard the chance to take his students on a college sports related trip.
“When Ednita first presented the opportunity I instantly wanted to do it,” voiced Grau. “It coincides with recent encouragement of thinking about college. It’s a great way to further expose the students to college life especially for many of them that are interested in continuing sports in the future.”
The jam packed afternoon began with a welcome from Lorenzo where she introduced the athletes and staff in attendance. From there, a quick and engaging warm up was led by Assistant Athletic Director Fran Mitilieri. The 25 Beacon students were then divided into three sections (basketball, cheerleading and soccer), and given 15-20 minutes on each station to learn basic drills and work with each of the CSI athletes. The day closed with a healthy snack provided by CSI SAAC, a tour of the facilities, and group picture.
The group participates in soccer drills
“I was so impressed by the group of students that came from the PS 18 UAU program. They were great,” commented Arcuri. “I fell in love with the step team as they showed the CSI cheerleaders their routine. It was incredible to see the talent that many of them have at such a young age.”
For many of the 5th through 8th grade students, it was the first time seeing such an accurate picture of a college sports department. Director Grau was more than pleased with the connection made and as he spoke about his ride back home, he made it clear just how much CSI Athletics made an impact on his students. “I had one student, Jacob Mkansah, asking me about how to get into college on the ride home, and many other students were talking about how they couldn’t wait till they were in college and have the chance to possibly participate in athletics.”
CSI expects to partner with the PS 18 UAU for future endeavors as well.