Did You Know? Fact #15.

This week’s fact highlights Wesleyan Athletics’  partnerships with local elementary schools. Beyond their presentation at Woodside, Athletics sends out students on a weekly basis to join the elementary schools during recess. You can check out their Harlem Shake video with Macdonough students here.

A large force behind this partnership is Jeff McDonald, who holds several titles at Wesleyan, including Assistant Football Coach and  co-advisor for Wesleyan’s Student Athlete Advisory Committee. In his article below, excerpted from Middletown Patch, McDonald details the symbiotic relationship between Wesleyan Athletics and Macdonough School.



Wesleyan Athletics Rub Elbows With Middletown Stakeholders on Fridays at Macdonough
By Jeff McDonald

The long “work week”, the hectic hours, the “rush rush” seems to pull us in all directions.  Then comes Friday.  Happy Friday!  TGIF is guaranteed to be posted somewhere by one of your Facebook friends.  Ah, yes.  The weekend cometh.
But for our student-athletes and myself, over the last five months, Friday has brought a different reward than just an end to the “work week”.

For our student-athletes, and myself, Friday has brought the opportunity to spend some time with the students at The Macdonough School for recess.  A time for us to put aside the rigors of academics, athletics and social pressures that come with being a college student today.  As a coach, it is absolutely amazing to watch our students, from all of our different sports teams, interact with theirs.

At times I stand back, laugh and really wonder if our students realize the positive impact they have on the students at Macdonough, without even trying, just by being themselves.  By the way they encourage each other, play by the rules, wait their turn, show concern for others- they send an anti-bullying message just through their actions.

These are all things our student-athletes do naturally while enjoying a game of basketball, soccer or four square, etc…  The students at Macdonough seem to truly love the time they have with our student-athletes and hopefully the positive behaviors continue to rub off on them.

Beyond this, I always find myself so impressed by the many members of the community you will see at any given Friday at the school.  For example, this past Friday, we saw Quentin Phipps (City Treasurer and Director of the Downtown Business District) and Joe Santaniello (Manager of ATD and Chair of the United Way Young Leaders Society) who were there to see their mentees.  On other Fridays we have run into Justin Carbonella (Director of Middletown Youth Services) and Mayor Dan Drew.

They are superstars in our community, busy successful professionals, who with all of  their responsibilities still find time to give back.  They might not realize it, but they have as big an impact on our students as they do on the students they mentor at Macdonough.  They serve as great role models for our students as successful professionals who understand the importance of giving back and find time to do so.  As I point out and introduce these community leaders to our student-athletes, they nod their heads saying to me, “That’s cool coach.”

Finally you’ll always see Macdonough’s principal, Jon Romeo, hustling from one part of the school to another.  Jon makes it so easy for everyone to be involved.  He invites all in the community to take part in helping his students develop and grow.  Always looking for new & innovative ways to reach his students.

The concept that it takes a village is not lost on him and at a time in our country when there is such a push to close schools and make them less accessible, this is refreshing.  His passion, excitement and genuine concern for his students show every time we visit.  He thanks us repeatedly for visiting, when truly it is the best part of our week and we should be thanking him.

When we leave Macdonough and their students for the short ride back to campus, stories of the just completed visit spill out in the university van.  Laughing and giggles from the fun that we just had erupts at a frenzied and hilarious pace.
Then about the time we cross Washington Street and head back on to campus, there is a pause in the laughter as each one of us re-enters reality.  We all start to walk through all the tasks in front of us as we pull up in front of the Freeman Athletic Center.

Time to get back to the tasks at hand and reality.  That is, until next Friday, when time will seem to stop again and we head back to Macdonough for another Friday with their students and others from the community, all partaking in the joy that is giving back.