Above photo: (l to r) - Michael Grinnell (Staff Therapist), Sam Riley (Track & Field), Rachel Neugart (Softball), Maria Chapman (Soccer), Carolyn Miles (Assoc. Dir. Student Athlete Services) and in the apple suit is Stephen Kletscher (Football)
WILLIAMSTOWN, MASS -- The great Herb Brooks who led the U.S. Olympic Men's Ice Hockey team to a stunning upset of the Sovet Union in the 1980 Olympic Games in Lake Placid, N.Y. and later to the gold medal once said, "Great moments are born from great opportunity." On January 24th-26th, a great opportunity was presented to four Williams student-athletes. This great opportunity was an interactive weekend experience to learn about substance use/misuse and prevention tactics to help student-athletes build an institution specific action plan. Sam Riley (track and field/freshman), Stephen Kletscher (football/sophomore), Maria Chapman (soccer/sophomore), and Rachel Neugart (softball/sophomore) were nominated by their coaches and selected by a committee to represent Williams College at the APPLE Institute conference in Newport Beach, Calif. They were joined and supported by the expertise of Carolyn Miles, Associate Director of Student Athlete Services, and Michael Grinnell, Staff Therapist.
The APPLE Institute's goal is to provide student-athletes from all NCAA divisions with the resources to reduce and bring awareness to substance use/misuse on campuses. There are seven slices of the apple: Recruitment, Expectations and Attitudes, Policies, Education, Drug Testing, Sanctioning, and Referral and Counseling. After learning about each slice, the Williams team discussed the issues and brainstormed solutions surrounding each slice on the Williams campus. Small breakout sessions such as bystander intervention training, HAZE: the movie, strategies for implementing campus change, medical amnesty, and healthy relationships allowed the team to pursue APPLE slices more in depth. Keynote speakers presented current knowledge and facts of substance use, with focus aimed at alcohol and marijuana usage.
At the conclusion of the weekend, the team formulated their action plan. This year's APPLE team wanted to focus on education and expectations and attitudes surrounding substance use. Some members of the Williams team planned initiatives that included surveying student-athletes and coaches to learn about stances and knowledge of substances, developing an interactive educational program for student-athletes and off-campus residents, and presenting the educational program to coaches, teams, and off-campus residents. The outline of the educational program includes three prongs: bystander intervention training, mental health resources, and specific substance facts and interactive awareness. The purpose of this action plan is to create an interactive learning experience that makes the social scene safer and more enjoyable for all students.
Although the team spent most of their time developing the action plan for Williams, there was still time for fun. They lounged in the hot tub, enjoyed sushi by the ocean, took the Balboa Ferry, and visited the Huntington Beach Pier where intense games of sand volleyball ensued.
These four student-athletes participated in this conference because they are passionate about being a part of something bigger than themselves. Williams student-athletes are competitive by nature and highly motivated to win. This team learned how limiting substance use can improve the probability of winning. If this APPLE team can help Eph teams evaluate their substance use and construct a positive culture that works for each specific team, then this APPLE team will have succeeded. The goal is not to force student-athletes to change nor is it to lecture student-athletes on their choices. This is not a goal-based initiative. This is a purposeful act to help Williams student-athletes put themselves in the best possible situation to be successful and win at a high level.
For more information on this program feel free to reach out to any member of the APPLE team if you have questions or suggestions.