CORPUS CHRISTI – Staff and student-athletes from the Texas A&M – Corpus Christi Islanders Athlete Mentors program recently took part in the NCAA APPLE Conference, in Huntington Beach, Calif. Staff members Kayleigh McCauley and Shahla Nadem-Mollaei along with cross country runners Alexandria Rossi and Cecy Gonzalez represented the university at the national conference.
“The NCAA APPLE conference was truly life changing,” Gonzalez said. “I look forward to taking everything I learned and sharing it with my team and adapting it to my life.”
The APPLE conferences, developed by the Gordie Center for Substance Abuse Prevention at the University of Virginia, are the leading national training symposiums dedicated to substance abuse prevention and health promotion for student athletes and athletics department administrators. The goal of the APPLE conference is to assist colleges in promoting student athlete health and wellness by empowering teams of student-athletes and administrators to create an institution-specific action plan.
“I was very impressed with the way Alex and Cecy represented Texas A&M – Corpus Christi,” McCauley said. “They were open and willing to learn new ideas and gave me some great feedback as to how we can improve our ATOD (alcohol, tobacco and other drugs) education here on campus. Our mentoring program is comparable to programs at institutions such as UCLA, the University of California at Berkley and Ohio State. The majority of our program’s success is because of the great student-athlete leaders who are involved, and it’s something we should all be proud of.”
The Islanders who made the trip took part in workshops, attended guest lectures and took part in team-building activities with other student-athletes from all Divisions and all areas of the nation. Rossi and Gonzalez were also filmed and interviewed by David Wyrick, associate professor at UNC-Greensboro & creator of myPlaybook, and the NCAA Student-Athlete Affairs for a promotional video for the APPLE Conferences.
There are 7 “slices” of the APPLE Model; education & ATOD programs, drug testing, sanctioning, referral & counseling, expectations & attitudes, policies, and recruitment practices. Our APPLE team will be focusing on the Policies model this year to revise our ATOD policy, as well as better educate our student-athletes about the policies that exist.
The Islanders Athlete Mentors program consists of 22 student-athletes who serve as peer educators primarily focused on alcohol, tobacco and other drug related issues on college campuses. It is a volunteer-based group, so students commit to a 12-hour training to be certified as a peer educator, and they also commit to participating in at least three community service events per semester. On top of this, they are assigned an individual mentee, a freshman student-athlete, who they are required to meet with once a week through the fall and spring semester. This allows a mentorship to form, promotes leadership and aids in the adjustment to college life for the freshman student-athletes.