For the sixth time in the award's seven-year existence, the Sacred Heart University Department of Athletics has captured the Northeast Conference Building Communities Award presented by Bayer. The award was presented Wednesday evening at the annual NEC Spring Meetings.
"Once again, it is my pleasure to congratulate Sacred Heart as the winner of the NEC Building Communities Award. The honor recognizes the student-athlete population that has the highest percentage of participation in community services activities as well total hours donated," said NEC Commissioner Noreen Morris. "Their continued commitment to service is a living, breathing example of NEC pride."
"It is an honor to work with such an impressive group of young men and women who are so willing to dedicate their time to bettering the world in which we live," said Executive Director of Athletics Bobby Valentine. "To earn the NEC Building Communities Award for a sixth time in seven years is a testament to the character of our student-athletes and their belief in the mission of Sacred Heart University. I extend my congratulations to our student-athletes, coaches and staff on earning this honor and thank them for inspiring myself and us all to do good within our community."
The Pioneers had 8,141 hours of community service from members of its NEC teams to earn the award. All told, SHU student-athletes contributed 8,844 volunteer hours during 2016-17. The NEC Regular Season champion bowling team topped the effort, contributing 1,073 hours of community service; 56.5 hours per team member during the year. The Pioneer men's lacrosse team, which posted a program-record nine wins, was close behind with 978 hours of community service during the season.
"I am very proud of our student-athletes and the role they take in our University's commitment to giving back," said SHU President John J. Petillo. "I am inspired by the passion and dedication they show in contributing their time, skill and effort to making a positive impact on our community. A hearty congratulations to the student-athletes, coaches and staff on earning the honor once again."
The community service efforts of Pioneer student-athletes covered numerous events, including 300 strong at the first-ever SHU Walk to End Violence Against Women. The annual Ponging for Hunger event raised a record 1,005 cans of food for food shelters in Bridgeport, and the department made a record contribution to the NEC Money Wars in support of the Children's Cancer Recovery Foundation. SHU student-athletes spent time at the Dunbar and Waltersville schools mentoring young students, assisted at the Jewish Home for the Elderly, and assisted Habitat for Humanity.
The Pioneers were announced as the winners of the Brenda Weare NEC Commissioner's Cup for a second-straight season and record seventh-time. All 21 programs that had postseason NEC Tournaments qualified for those championships in 2016-17, with SHU winning three postseason NEC Championships; women's golf, women's indoor track and field and women's outdoor track and field, and two regular season crowns: women's bowling and women's volleyball.