In a showcase of community engagement, Brandeis Athletics has been making significant strides in giving back to the local community. This commitment to service has taken various forms over the years, involving student-athletes in programs such as Team Impact and You're With Us, where they serve as mentors to youngsters facing serious illnesses or disabilities.

Andrew Vatistas, assistant director of Athletics for External Relations, highlighted the diverse range of initiatives that Brandeis student-athletes have been involved in. These include contributing to clothing donations through the Cradles 2 Crayons nonprofit organization, participating in city clean-up efforts in Waltham, and actively engaging in Read Across America initiatives in local schools and daycare facilities.

That being said, a new and impactful partnership has emerged between Brandeis Athletics and nearby Stanley Elementary School this academic year. The Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) spearheaded this collaboration, fostering frequent visits to the school where student athletes spend quality time with children during their recess periods. President of SAAC Tristan Boyer ’25 has remained a primary organizer and coordinated logistics for all of the teams alongside Vatistas. The Department of Student Engagement played a crucial role in facilitating background checks, ensuring the safety and security of all participants

With nearly 100 student-athletes already volunteering at Stanley Elementary, the initiative plans to continue its positive impact throughout the school year. The goal is to maintain a consistent presence by visiting at least once per week on average, allowing the student-athletes to build meaningful connections with the children.

The motivation behind this initiative is rooted in the athletes' deep appreciation for the opportunities they have at Brandeis. Through the program, Student athletes come to reflect on their privileges of higher education and community through sports that ignites a nature of selflessness. In turn they are inspired to give back, often engaging with the youth at Stanley Elementary. These student-athletes aim to impart the significance of a college education and the possibility of pursuing one's passion in sports simultaneously.

The impact of this initiative is evident in the positive feedback received from coaches, student-athletes, and the administration at Stanley Elementary. The mutual benefits of this relationship are palpable, with smiles on the faces of elementary students when they see the athletes eagerly awaiting the start of recess.

Anna Kolb '25, co-captain of the Brandeis softball team, commented, “Volunteering at Stanley has given me a way to relate back to when I was their age. Often growing up, we forget what it was even like being a kid, and much less how it would be in today's crazy world. I love how they see things for what they are, instead of all the overthinking and stress adults have. Being with them makes me laugh and always has me smiling. I hope I give them as much joy as they give me.”

Looking ahead, Brandeis Athletics expresses enthusiasm for the continued collaboration with Stanley Elementary and Waltham Public Schools. The commitment to finding new and creative ways to give back to the local community remains a cornerstone of Brandeis Athletics, showcasing the positive influence student-athletes can have beyond the playing field.

— Editor’s Note: Justice Managing editor Smiley Huynh ’24 and Justice News editorial assistant Lin Lin Hutchinson ’25 are members of the track and field team, and Justice Sports editor Rani Balakrishna ’25 is a member of the softball team ---- none of them edited nor contributed to this story.