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Gear Up For Good and the Joy of Giving Back
Saturday, December 9 was a perfect day to “Gear Up for Good.” Under sunny skies, five members of the Student Athlete Leadership Committee (SALC), as well as members of Maret’s championship football team and Coach Engelberg, greeted families who came to drop off athletic gear for Leveling The Playing Field and participate in the all-gender flag football clinic.

Donated athletic gear filled overflowing containers. Football players led athletes in a series of throwing and catching drills. Parents tossed footballs on the sidelines. Third grader Bella Liddell shared that her favorite activities were the tackling exercises on the pads and the opportunity to work with quarterback Roman Jensen. The event culminated in a game of flag football, and coach Engelberg followed it up with an inspirational speech about what it means to be a good team player. A dance party wrapped up the day, reflecting the joy felt by all who attended.

The football team “did an amazing job connecting with the kids, learning all their names, cheering them on when they caught the ball or made a great defensive play, putting huge smiles on their faces!”—Jamie Covitz ’24, one of the leaders of SALC.
Participants gather with donated gear on back field at Maret
Participants gather with donated gear on back field at Maret.
“Community service has always been a big part of my family life,” said Covitz. “For the past several years, I’ve been very involved in Special Olympics and Open Door Sports, helping young athletes with disabilities. I’ve developed strong personal friendships with the kids I work with that are long lasting. My family has taught me that giving back isn’t a task to complete for service hours but just a fantastic part of life.”
The purpose of SALC is to connect athletic teams with service and community engagement opportunities throughout the year. Their goal is to organize one large event per season. With this first event, they hoped to not only help those outside of the school community but also build community across divisions within the school. Being able to promote Maret’s DCSAA Class A championship football team was a bonus.
When asked about the connection between team sports and community engagement, Covitz replied, “Athletes have a unique ability to lead from their experience being on a team. We learn to work hard, work together toward a common goal, be resilient, persevere, support, and empathize. These are all amazing life qualities that channel so well into community service. Community engagement is also a great way for teams to bond, get out of their heads, and do something for someone else.”

Director of Community Engagement Carolyn Bottelier ’09 and Athletic Director Monique Liddell support SALC, but it is a student-run group, and its leaders are highly motivated. Their planning started way back in August. Bottelier said the success of Gear Up for Good is a testament to how influential upper school clubs can be. The event allowed students to apply organizational skills learned in and out of the classroom and foster “a culture of empathy, connectedness, and initiative within the greater community.”

Liddell adds, “Bridging the concept of giving (donating the equipment) and giving back (free clinic for those who donate) was an amazing experience. I’m excited to see how events like the one held last weekend will grow and all the ways the SALC is planning to involve athletes across every sport and season.”