Princeton University

Princeton Weekly Bulletin   September 25, 2006, Vol. 96, No. 3   prev   next   current

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  • Editor: Ruth Stevens

    Calendar editor: Carolyn Geller

    Staff writers: Jennifer Greenstein Altmann, Eric Quiñones

    Contributing writer: Denise Barricklow, Cass Cliatt, Karin Dienst, Teresa Riordan

    Photographers: Denise Applewhite, John Jameson

    Design: Maggie Westergaard

    Web edition: Mahlon Lovett

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Community ties

Community outreach generates a winning feeling for student-athletes

Princeton NJ — As local residents rank among the most loyal supporters of the University’s varsity sports teams, Princeton’s student-athletes return the favor by spending many hours in service to the communities surrounding campus.

Skate With the Tigers

Mark Masters, a 2006 Princeton graduate, is joined by a young fan during a “Skate With the Tigers” event following a men’s hockey game last season at Baker Rink. (courtesy: Department of Athletics)

“We are committed to supporting outreach initiatives and to building programs that help our athletes connect and contribute to the community,” said Louise Gengler, assistant director of the Princeton Varsity Club, which coordinates the “Tigers in the Community” programs sponsored by the Department of Athletics and the University’s 38 varsity sports teams.

“Our student-athletes recognize how fortunate they are. They know that they have the ability, resources and responsibility to give back to the community in a meaningful way,” said Gengler, who served as Princeton women’s tennis coach from 1980 to 2004.

Student-athletes are a major presence at town-gown events such as Community and Staff Day (see story on page 4) and Communiversity, where they run clinics and give demonstrations to show local youngsters the finer points of various sports. Athletes also participate in annual events such as National Girls and Women in Sports Day, a multisport clinic held in Jadwin Gym prior to a Princeton women’s basketball game that draws 3,000 local children and parents, and Teams for Tots, a program run by Athletes in Action that collects holiday gifts for needy families in the Princeton and Trenton communities.

The athletics department sponsors an annual program, Taking Kids Out (TKO), which provides trips to Trenton Thunder minor league baseball games for local children from disadvantaged backgrounds. Before watching the games, the children get academic lessons and meet a Thunder player. The TKO program, created by Gengler in 1994, is co-sponsored by the Student Volunteers Council and the Thunder.

Other efforts sponsored by the athletics department include providing free tickets to several hundred community groups for home football, basketball, hockey and lacrosse games as well as staffing the “Tiger Town” interactive fan zone at home football games. The department and several teams also participated last year in an auction organized by the class of 2007 in which Princeton students pledged hours of community service work in exchange for prizes such as taking a halftime shot at a basketball game, throwing out the first pitch at a baseball or softball game, or receiving a squash lesson.

In addition, Princeton’s varsity teams organize their own community activities, including numerous children’s clinics through their sports’ local associations, equipment donations and tutoring. The teams work with organizations such as local elementary schools, Anchor House in Trenton, the Boys and Girls Club of Trenton and Mercer County, Habitat for Humanity, the Susan Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, the Princeton Family YMCA, Read Across America, Special Olympics and the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen. Varsity head coaches also oversee clinics during the academic year and summer and speak at local schools and youth sports leagues.

Shelly Slemp, a member of the women’s basketball team, has participated in Athletes in Action, Community Action and other activities with her teammates, including working with a preschool program for homeless children organized by the Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Princeton Junction.

“I think it’s important for us to be involved in these kinds of activities because we are part of the Princeton community and the community that surrounds the campus,” said Slemp, a senior. “It’s always a pleasure for me to meet a new face and encounter people I might not have otherwise met. Many of the players on my team share that sentiment.”

For more information on “Tigers in the Community” initiatives, visit the Princeton Varsity Club Web site at


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