Being a student-athlete at Schoolcraft College means much more than how well you shoot a basketball, hit a baseball or spike a volleyball. It means, first and foremost, being a strong student and also participating in initiatives that give back to the community. One example is the service the baseball team provides in Detroit.
The Ocelots play their home games at The Corner Ballpark, which is on the grounds of the old Tiger Stadium. This beautiful facility also is the permanent home for events for the Detroit Police Athletic League (PAL), which helps young people through athletic, academic and leadership development programs.
Schoolcraft College’s baseball team is more than just a tenant at The Corner Ballpark, however, as the coaches and players actively serve the community. One program the team helped with was “Tiny Tigers,” a baseball camp for ages 4-8 hosted by Detroit PAL and sponsored by the Detroit Tigers Foundation. Ocelot coaches and players provided instruction during the summer and fall. The team also pitches in to help clean up the area around The Corner Ballpark.
“One of the main focuses in our program is help our players be better young men,” coach Rob Fay said. “With that comes an emphasis on our players being kind and charitable. We are always looking to give back and help. The facility is beautiful and we are fortunate to be there and take pride in calling it home.
“So our coaches and players spent an afternoon after practice helping clean up the surrounding areas around the ball park. Detroit PAL is a nonprofit organization that is a little short-staffed since COVID-19 hit, so we thought this would be a good way for us to help them and give back to them for partnering with Schoolcraft College.”
Typically, each of Schoolcraft College’s nine teams willingly takes on a service project – knitting blankets and supporting Forgotten Harvest to help those facing food insecurity are just a few recent examples.
Of course, a strong focus on academics is central to Schoolcraft College’s student-athletes. For the 2020 academic year, five Schoolcraft College teams and 56 student-athletes were named to the MCCAA (Michigan Community College Athletic Association) and the NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) All-Academic Team.
To help student-athletes succeed, Cali Crawford, Director of Athletics, oversees the Student Athlete Support System. This program ensures academic success for Schoolcraft College student-athletes far beyond merely keeping them eligible for their sports. Instead, they are tasked with making progress in their academic program so they can enter the workforce with an associate degree or credential, or seamlessly transfer to a four-year institution to continue their studies or their playing career.
This individual approach to student success is something that resonates deeply with Crawford. As a child, she struggled with her schoolwork, especially with reading comprehension and overall focus. Today, as a leader, she takes a special interest in any Schoolcraft College student-athlete who may be struggling with academics because of an unknown or undiagnosed challenges. She knows personally the heartache and frustration that comes when effort is not enough, and works to find the right solution for those students.
“We want to make sure all of our student-athletes are prepared to meet the challenges in their careers and lives,” Crawford said. “Athletics provided me the opportunity to attend college and create the foundation for my career. As Director of Athletics, the biggest part of my mission is ensure all of our student-athletes are well-positioned to succeed in their careers and are caring and responsible citizens in our communities.”