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APPLE committee goes to national conference

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From Jan. 17-19, various student-athletes, coaches and staff traveled to Charlottesville, Va. to attend the annual APPLE Conference for Student-Athlete Wellness and Substance Abuse Prevention. APPLE is one of the nation’s leading training symposiums dedicated to educating student-athletes about substance abuse prevention and helping athletic departments promote healthy living. The conference aimed to improve relationships between administrators and student-athletes as well as facilitate university action plans to impact substance abuse problems.

Alaina White, Transylvania’s head athletic trainer, found the conference helpful on a number of levels. On the topic of empowering student-athletes to take accountability for substance abuse, White said, “Peer education and mentoring has been proven to be more effective than a speaker, so our students have taken on the task of presenting alcohol and drug use facts to their teammates and other students on campus.”

The initiative to promote a sense of accountability among student-athletes is a shared sentiment.

Junior Sara Clark, a member of the field hockey team, attended APPLE for her third consecutive year. For Clark, students are the key to promoting a healthy environment for all student athletes.

“This year we decided to focus on the education slice out of the seven different options,” she said. “We plan to have more involved and interesting student-athlete prevention meetings to address alcohol and other banned substances.”

APPLE also worked to help both staff and students understand that their perception of substance abuse may not always be what they think. “The speakers at the conference help the student-athletes understand that their perception may not be the reality,” said White, “especially when it comes to alcohol, tobacco and other drug use on campus.”

Clark also acknowledged the need for Transylvania to be involved in athlete substance abuse prevention. “Prior to leaving for the trip to Virginia, our APPLE leaders filled out a survey about our school’s programs and policies, and we received a score on how well our school is doing compared to the national average.” Clark said. “Based on those scores, we decided what we should work on for our action plan.”

Last year’s action plan has been in effect at Transy for over a year and the results are already noticeable. In terms of success, Clark said, “Last year, we worked on our recruitment policy for student-athlete hosts, coaches, and recruits. This year, we were recognized at the conference for our hard work in improving our policy.

“We are very excited to begin planning our fall 2014 events for all student athletes,” she continued. “We plan to have our first meeting within the next week to begin preparations.”

Other staff members of the APPLE committee on campus are Director of Health and Wellness Ashley Hinton-Moncer, Choices Grant Co-Coordinator Erin McWilliams and Field Hockey Head Coach Tiffany Underhill. The other students in attendance were juniors Ben Fister and Cassie Hamilton and sophomore Nick Blackwell.

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