This spring, the Youth Sports Mentoring Program will begin its first semester of operation. The brainchild of Adele Gilman, ’19, Allegheny Athletic Director Portia Hoeg and Meadville Area High School Athletic Director Jon Frye will pair Allegheny and Meadville Area School District athletes in the same sport for mentoring on and off the playing field.
Gilman came up with the concept during her summer as a Davies Service Leader and decided to create the program this past fall as a part of the Allegheny Volunteer Service Leader Program. During the summer, she listened to multiple interviews from the My Meadville program, a community effort to interview residents about their experiences living in Meadville this past summer and fall. There, she found many community members felt “the sports culture describes the spirit of Meadville.”
From this, Gilman set out to find a way to bridge the gap between the Allegheny and Meadville communities and decided to do it using one of her passions: sports.
The program will pair athletes from Meadville and Allegheny together for weekly mentoring sessions, as well as large-scale group events. The first group event will take place on Saturday, Jan. 27, where the mentors and mentees`, as well as other community members, will take part in a Service Saturday project in town.
The program is also hoping to encourage Allegheny athletes to see Meadville in a new light.
“I hope it would give them a new idea of what Meadville is and help them see that they are a part of this Meadville community,” Gilman said.
Allegheny football player Marcus Davenport, ’19, said he has always wanted to work with youth back home in New Kensington but wanted to gain some experience in Meadville while in school. The Office of Civic Engagement connected Davenport with the new program.
“I just like helping kids who came from the same problems that I did,” Davenport said, explaining his motivation behind mentoring a youth.
Organizers and participants hope that the program will help reshape how some community members see the college’s position in the Meadville community.
“I think it would help Meadville realize that Allegheny isn’t necessarily this school on top of a hill, but we’re more of a neighboring community who’s willing to help,” Davenport said.
The program may be new, but it is already catching the eyes of Allegheny athletes, even ones who are set to graduate this May.
“I would’ve taken part in it [if the program was around prior]. … It would foster community between Allegheny and Meadville. Also, it would’ve been good for athletes and all of these kids who play sports in Meadville” football player Jack Horan, ’18, said.
Although the program has not officially begun, the organizers of the program are excited about the potential impact it could have on Meadville athletes.
“I hope it would inspire the youth to pursue collegiate sports or just see how fun sports can be,” Gilman said.
While the program begins this spring, the program is already looking to the future and hoping to expand.
“I hope the program grows and continues over time, as well as it potentially becoming mandatory for [Allegheny] athletes to take a mentee,” Davenport said.