Student athletes at Red Deer College have a lot on their plates. On top of regular practices and games, athletes at RDC must maintain a full course load and maintain a minimum GPA in order to remain eligible to participate in their chosen sport.
For many people, balancing athletics and academics would be a very difficult task. But many RDC athletes not only keep up with that busy schedule, they add to it by dedicating themselves to volunteering in the community and by coaching youth teams in communities around Central Alberta.
“I think it’s kind of a little bit of our duty to reach out and give back to the community. I mean, we get so much support from the community here on campus, but also within the City of Red Deer and even Central Alberta that we tell our athletes that it’s important to give back,” said Diane St-Denis, the athletic director at the College.
According to a press release issued by the College earlier this week, student athletes from across RDC’s teams are involved in coaching, from curling players coaching with Special Olympics to soccer players working with Red Deer City Soccer.
Fourth-year Queens’ soccer midfielder Kaitlin D’Arcy has been volunteering her time as a coach and a trainer since she was 17-years-old.
“I work mostly with the goalies and the forwards, showing them skills and helping them to develop fundamentals,” said D’Arcy, who is currently volunteering as an assistant coach for the Red Deer Renegades U11 boys’ soccer team.
“I want to encourage them to have fun and to have a positive experience. It’s so rewarding to see players get that special smile when they know they’ve done something well that they’ve been practicing for a long time – those little things can make a big difference for them.”
For Kings volleyball setter Ryan Beatson, it’s special to give back to the community by coaching in a club he was part of as a player.
Beatson, who is an assistant coach with the Central Alberta Kings’ U18 Volleyball Club, said he remembers having RDC Kings as coaches during his time with the club.
The assistant coaching duties keep him busy, as the club team has three practices per week plus weekend premier tournaments, which are on top of his time as a Kings volleyball player and full-time RDC student.
“It’s a busy schedule, but this is very important, so I try to balance everything,” he said.
“It’s great to be able to work with this age group, and I really love the opportunity to be able to coach and give back.”
St-Denis said that for many of the players that volunteer their time with organizations around the community, passing on the passion for their sport is a special experience.
“They’re all here because they have a passion for their sport. And passing on that passion to perhaps the next version of the Kings and Queens is important for them to be part of,” she said, noting that students only have to give up a little bit of their own time in order to be part of that rewarding experience.
It’s not just volunteering in sports, either. Student athletes at RDC also occasionally make trips out to elementary schools in order to read to kids.
St-Denis said that in her experience, athletes are happy to get, “The next version of me excited about either studying, reading or playing a sport and so they see the value in that.”
It’s also a way for students who don’t have a lot of money to get involved and help out someone in need.
“They’ve got time and we keep telling them that that’s probably the best investment you can make,” St-Denis said.