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Women's Soccer Honored by Columbia Community Service With Virginia Xanthos Award

Women's Soccer Honored by Columbia Community Service With Virginia Xanthos Award

Courtesy of Columbia Sports Information/Media Relations

bullet Friends of Jaclyn Foundation
bullet Level The Field Organization
bullet Article on Columbia Women's Soccer and Friends of Jaclyn by Graham Hays (Oct. 22, 2008)
bullet Video of Level the Field Soccer Clinic (April 2010)


NEW YORK -- The Columbia Community Service board has awarded the Columbia University women's soccer team the Virginia Xanthos Award. Every year, the board of CCS gives community grants to over 50 community organizations that provide critical services and needs to thousands of underserved New Yorkers.

"To be recognized for our community service is wonderful," head coach Kevin McCarthy says. "However, what makes this award even more significant is that it empowers our program to continue being a force in the lives of the young people we work with in the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation and The Level The Field program."

The Virginia Xanthos Award is named after Virginia Xanthos, who was a member of the CCS board and an employee of the Provost Office, 15 years ago. The award is given to a campus group in recognition of the work and support that they are doing in the local community. The award includes a $1,000 check, which will be used to further the team’s community work

The CCS Virginia Xanthos Award is not the first given to the women's soccer team for its outstanding community service efforts. The Lions were awarded the Paul E. Fernandes Community Service Award at the 89th Annual Varsity C Celebration in May. The award is given to the Columbia varsity sports program achieving the most significant contributions and notable service to the University and local communities during an academic year.

The Friends of Jaclyn Foundation matches a child with pediatric brain tumors, who is in need of love, support and friendship, with a college or high school sports team to improve the quality of life for the child. Through a due diligence process, the foundation screens for the best match based on the child and family's needs and the team, coach and athletic director's commitment to our foundation's goals.

Columbia adopted Ashley Gankiewicz, a young girl with a rare form of pediatric brain cancer called neurofibromatosis, in the spring of 2008. The team has kept in touch with her through e-mail and phone calls ever since. The Lions have invited Ashley to numerous practices and games, and the relationship blossomed so much that the team held its own Penguin Plunge, in conjunction with Ashley's in Nyack, N.Y., in the early spring of 2009. The event raised more than $1,000, which was donated directly to the Gankiewicz family to assist with rising medical costs associated with fighting neurofibromatosis.

In addition to its work with Friends of Jaclyn, the women's soccer team also finds time to give back to one of its own alumna's not-for-profit organizations. Former women's soccer player Erica Woda '04CC began Level The Field in March 2009 as a way of empowering inner-city youth by providing a unique opportunity to work with high-achieving collegiate student-athletes both inside and outside of the classroom.

The Lions have taken many of the children involved in the program under their wing, and have established bonds with the kids through sport. A soccer clinic was held at Baker Athletics Complex in April 2010, and many of the Columbia women's soccer players have made their way up to Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School in Washington Heights to mentor the middle-school students.

The Columbia Community Service Office, which is located in Earl Hall, handles the distribution of all grants and awards to the community.