Maryland Athletics announced on Friday an expansion of its student-athlete development program, with enhanced relationships with Special Olympics Maryland (SOMD) and Team IMPACT and a new partnership with UMD’s chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
This new collaboration comes in the wake of new concerns about social injustice and anti-Black racism nationwide, as many Terp student-athletes spoke of the need to partner with a nonprofit dedicated to equality. Maryland Athletics hopes to advance the chapter’s mission of advocating, informing and assisting the university community with not only dialogue but action.
The partnership plans to feature a “racial justice in sport” panel, community service opportunities and a fundraiser in which the athletic department will place a football uniform featuring one of its new racial justice nameplates up for auction; proceeds will entirely benefit the student-led organization.
“I am more than excited to work with our athletic department and use our platforms to not only raise awareness but also engage with those in our community to make our synonymous visions for equality a reality,” said Zahrah Siddiq ‘22, University of Maryland NAACP president.
Maryland Athletics’ relationship with SOMD, which provides year-round training and athletic competition in Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, dates back many years, with multiple Terp teams annually hosting SOMD athletes at practices and clinics. Student-athletes will continue to be engaged on and off the field and along with SOMD athletes will find new fellowship, internship and development opportunities. Athletic Director Damon Evans recently joined the SOMD Board of Directors.
For nearly a decade, Maryland Athletics has worked with Team IMPACT, a national organization whose mission is to tackle the emotional trauma and social isolation experienced by children facing serious and chronic illnesses by matching them with a college athletic team. Seven UMD teams have “signed” Team IMPACT teammates, and Maryland will seek to sign more kids to its rosters.
“We are thrilled to join together with these community service partners,” said Evans. “The service-learning, volunteering and advocacy opportunities for our student-athletes and staff will not only help them grow as individuals, but will also allow Maryland Athletics to make a tangible and positive difference in our communities.”
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