Hi guys, it’s Brooke again!

For those of you new to us, welcome to Veterans and College Athlete’s Together, aka VCAT. This program is new as of this September, and I am sure many of you are just discovering VCAT. Well, there was a time and place where the members of our squad discovered VCAT too, which I am here to share with all of you! Let’s begin with an athlete breakdown.

Currently, our program has 8 student athletes. Our athletes range from freshman to senior, with players on the Women’s Lacrosse Team, Men’s Club Lacrosse Team, Track and Field Team, Field Hockey Team, and Softball Team. Most of us athletes found VCAT through an e-mail sent to us during the summer from Leah herself. Lizzie however, discovered VCAT at Hen Minded, where Leah promoted the program. Leah is the volunteer coach for the Field Hockey team, so Lizzie was able to ask her about the program after practice the next day, and after hearing Leah’s own personal experience with the Initiative, she wanted an experience exactly like Leah. Lizzie likes being involved in lots of things outside of school and field hockey, and this was an opportunity to get involved and make an impact on someone else’s life while doing something she loves- working out. Similarly, our other athletes all wanted to make an impact, some with the intent on giving back to their loved ones. Both of my grandfathers as well as both of Chayanna’s grandfathers served in the military, and we both thought this was the best opportunity to give back. Brandon also has a military family and began the program for the same reason of giving back. After noticing the need for another athlete for my workout group, I recruited my teammate Sophia Murray, who initially thought VCAT would be smaller, mini workouts, but was surprised by how challenging the workouts can be. She enjoys the challenging workouts, saying that it is good for her sport and good for her veteran because they continue to push each other to work harder and harder. Initially, all of us had no idea what to expect. Brandon says he knew he would workout and help veterans reintegrate back into regular life, but had no idea what this entailed, and just went for it! Lizzie was surprised too, she expected the workouts to be easier than they are, but the competitive piece makes her bring 100% everyday to workout! Oh, did I forget to mention, we are quite competitive here at VCAT. And when I say quite competitive, I mean EXTREMELY competitive. We have two workout groups, one from 7:00-8:15, and one from 9:35-10:55. Everything we do is in competition with the other group. It is SO much fun, and leads to great team building. Chayanna commented on how close we have gotten as a group in such a short period of time, and how much we have grown. Enough about our athletes now. Let’s introduce the real stars of the show, our veterans!

We have 7 veterans participating in our program. We have an age range of 34-53 here at VCAT! How awesome is that? Our veterans were part of the army, the marine reserves, the marine corps, and the Delaware National Guard. Our veterans served our country for a various amounts of years, with one of the highest being 28 years! Some of our veterans are still serving today, and are on active reserves. Our veterans discovered VCAT in a variety of ways. A few members received e-mails due to membership of the Delaware National Guard, the Veterans Association, and the Wounded Warrior Program. One of our veterans, Todd, discovered VCAT on a bicycle ride he participated in with Leah last May. He said she explained the program that was run at Boston, and how it was traveling to UD where he was a full time student. His biggest reason for joining VCAT was the accountability. Having someone to workout with and someone he couldn’t let down made him have no reason for any excuses. Self improvement and motivation are many common themes for why our veterans decided to join VCAT. Many felt they needed a coach to guide them to get back into shape. Maurice felt this opportunity was too good to be true, because people pay a lot of money for a service like this. He expected to learn and would try to perfect exercises on his own. He didn’t expect to see results overnight, but to take this as an opportunity to learn. He even referred to the program as a “life class”. Dennis also wanted to accept this challenge, and knew he would be surrounded by other veterans which he referred to as his comfort space. Yet, he wanted to participate in VCAT not only for himself, but for us athletes too. He wants to bring some value to us athletes as far as teaching about their world, and how we are both very alike. Dennis is not the only veteran doing this for a reason other than himself. Darin told me he is doing this to get back in shape for his children. All of our veterans are pushing themselves to the limit, forcing themselves out of their comfort zones not only for themselves, but for their loved ones. How courageous is this? I look up to every single one of them, and are inspired by the effort and presence they bring daily.

This, my friends, is VCAT. I hope you enjoyed your own discovery of VCAT as much as we enjoyed finding VCAT ourselves. I am shocked at how close we have become in these few weeks. We truly are a VCAT family 😊 I can’t wait to update you all again soon!

 

Go Hens!!
Brooke Ciampaglio 😊