Virginia Commonwealth University’s incoming class of student-athletes got a chance recently to meet – and to learn.

An event known as VCU P.R.I.D.E was hosted by the VCU Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and VCU’s Wellness Resource Center.  It was for all freshmen and transfer student-athletes.

The event focused on changing the attitudes and expectations of student-athletes and included the distribution of several educational pieces.

SAAC members and peer mentors served as big brothers and sisters to discuss some of the issues that may occur during the transition to the life and responsibilities of a VCU student-athlete.   The goal was to prepare the newcomers for the collegiate athletic experience and to give them solid advice on balancing life as a student and an athlete.

P.R.I.D.E. stands for Perseverance, Responsibility, Involvement, Dreams and Encouragement.   Those were the primary topics discussed.

When the student-athletes came in, they were seated in groups of 10-12 at tables with SAAC members and peer mentors.  As each topic of P.R.I.D.E. was introduced by SAAC President Grant Mathews, each table had 10 minutes to discuss topics.

Dr. Linda Hancock, director of the Wellness Resource Center, made an interactive presentation on the health norms at VCU.  Students were asked questions through PowerPoint slides and had the opportunity to answer using the clicker.

One of the activities for responsibility included Bartender School with Dr. Hancock.  This challenged the perceptions of what students think the measurements are for drinks.  The goal was to share and teach party smart strategies and to prevent alcohol misuse.

“It was good to build relationships with the incoming athletes.  It allows them to feel more comfortable and helps in their transition as a student-athlete,” said junior Amanda Adams, an SAAC member and member of the VCU women’s soccer team.

Said VCU Athletics Life Skills Coordinator Alisha Childress, “The P.R.I.D.E event was a success. The new student-athletes heard from upperclassmen on how to deal with the stresses of being a student-athlete, such as balancing classes while traveling, redshirting, injury, getting involved with activities outside of their sport, living on their own for the first time and being positive teammates.”