Skyhawks raise $1,500 dollars, embrace NCAA Division II mission
|Senior Kristen Veit played a major role in the fundraising efforts by the Stonehill College men's and women's cross country and track & field teams.|
EASTON, Mass. (November 13, 2012) – This race started out like any other for the NCAA Division II nationally ranked Stonehill College men's and women's cross country teams. Both squads were quick off the starting line and worked together, collectively, to reach a higher goal. The only difference this time is the Skyhawks weren't competing for a Northeast-10 Conference or NCAA East Regional championship. Stonehill was raising money for the Joplin School District Fund and the Missouri Southern Tornado Relief Fund.
This season, the city of Joplin, Mo., and Missouri Southern State University will serve as hosts for the NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships. Once senior tri-captain Kristen Veit (Easthampton, Mass./Holyoke Catholic) and men's and women's cross country head coach Karen Boen were informed of the relief effort through an e-mail correspondence from Division II Chairman Aaron Russell and cross country President Marlon Brink, the team sprang into action to help out.
"I felt proud that they actually took it upon themselves to do something, especially over the summer when it would not have been noticed if they decided not to get involved at all," said Boen. "We always talk about being a community and that Stonehill puts a focus on 'giving back,' so I felt that our message was delivered. I also thought it was great that they felt a connection to those in Joplin where we will be competing at the NCAA Championships. They did this not to bring attention to themselves, only to do something they felt was the right thing to do."
Joplin was devastated by a catastrophic tornado on May 22, 2011, that destroyed a third of the city and killed 161 people. The storm was reported to have caused some $2.8 billion in damage to the city (courtesy of the Boston Globe). Veit along with members from both cross country teams and the men's and women's track & field teams had to help once they were made aware of the initiative. It was just the right thing to do, especially for a city and University that did not withdraw its bid to host the NCAA Division II Championships.
"After the initiative was announced, the team was very eager to get on board with a fundraiser," said Veit. "It was never a question of if we would participate; rather, it was what we would do to raise our share. There is a great sense of community at Stonehill, and I believe there is an even stronger sense of camaraderie within our team."
|Stephen Polito, a 2012 graduate of the College, designed this logo which was printed on the cross country and track & field teams t-shirts that were sold as part of the fundraising efforts.|
STEP IN, STEPHEN POLITO
Along with the sense of camaraderie within this current team, there is an even bigger sense of togetherness among the alumnae/i base in the Stonehill cross country and track & field programs.
That's where Stephen Polito (Worcester, Mass./Doherty Memorial), a 2012 graduate and CoSIDA Capital One Academic All-American, steps in.
When coach Boen reached out to the team looking for a fundraiser idea to help the efforts along, Polito caught wind of the project and jumped in immediately.
"Stephen is so talented and creative with graphic design, so we knew he would come up with something great," said Veit. "He put so much time and effort into creating something unique that people would like, and that proved to be very successful."
Polito, who most recently took a job at Shields Design Studio in Plymouth, Mass., designed a circular logo with the words "Stonehill College" in the middle sandwiching the a-typical cross country shoe and wings logo into a banner cutting through the oval shape. Underneath, the words "Cross Country Track And Field" were closed in by two purple lines with 25 white dots in between. The entire logo was placed on a grey t-shirt.
Polito designed the logo/shirt around the College's colors: purple and white.
ONE TEAM, A GREATER PURPOSE
Routinely, coach Boen is quoted throughout every season stating her runners and other student-athletes are all about the team despite the individual nature of both sports: cross country and track & field.
This fundraising effort was no different.
"Each and every one of my teammates is so dedicated to the sport and to each other, and I know this is a crucial component of the success we have had this season and in past seasons," said Veit. "I look up to so many of them for their work ethic, their drive, and for so many other things, but the fact that the team came together to do something for another community – that is a true testament to their character, and for that, I am very proud."
In terms of how the student-athletes handled their fundraising and organizing responsibilities, coach Boen couldn't be any more proud, either.
"You always hope that the best in some will bring out the best in others and this was truly the case with this group," said Boen. "It sometimes takes leadership to get things going but the true character of the team became evident by the support they all demonstrated. This group's compassion never surprises me to be honest."
ONE GOAL, EVEN MORE SUPPORT
At the time Brink and Russell launched the Joplin fundraising initiative, there was a goal set forth to raise $150,000, which averages out to $600 per NCAA Division II cross country team. Veit figured with the help of the entire track & field team and both cross country programs $1,200 could collectively be raised.
|Senior Caroline McBride will look to guide the Skyhawks cross country team on Saturday, November 17 at NCAA's.|
The group surpassed that total. But it came as no surprise to Veit, as she knew the Stonehill Community would pitch in.
"The team reached out to family, friends, high school teammates, and the Stonehill Community to encourage them to buy a shirt for a great cause," said Veit. "The athletic department was active in contributing as well and I was very excited, but not surprised, to have so much support from them behind our efforts. Because people were so responsive and generous, we were able to raise over $1,500. The check is going to be presented in Joplin at NCAA's this week, so it will be exciting for us to see that happen."
OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS, RISE UP
Both the men's and women's cross country teams will travel to Joplin for the NCAA Division II cross country championships on Saturday, November 17 with one chance to prove themselves against the best teams in the country.
It's a moment the two groups have been training for all season. And they are looking forward to it.
"I love this time of the year when we can really watch all of our hard work come together. I am so proud of everything our team has accomplished so far, and I am excited to see what our final meet will bring," said Veit. "We are really excited to get on the starting line, give everything we have, and see how we stack up against the best teams in the country."
Veit also made sure her coaching staff was acknowledged for all the success she and the rest of her teammates, both on the men's and women's cross country teams, had over the years.
"We are so incredibly lucky to have coach Boen, coach Rich Hart and coach Steve Fitzgerald as our own," said Veit. "Specifically, coach Boen brings so much passion, energy, and knowledge to the team and her plan for us has certainly been successful thus far. Coach's plan for us really came together at Regionals, and I am confident my teammates will find even more within themselves at Nationals. All three coaches were also so helpful along the way with different aspects of the fundraising process. They let the athletes take control, but they took care of so many of the details that made it possible and so successful."
The women's cross country team will be making its 13th-straight appearance to the NCAA Division II Championships on Saturday, while the men's squad will make its tenth-straight appearance. The women's cross country team is currently the four-time defending NE-10 championships and East Region champions while the men have won the Conference title two years running.