Jayne Claire Vincent, Campus Carrier asst. sports editor
Athletes Bettering the Community (ABC), one of the clubs here on Berry’s campus, strives to improve and impact the environment around them.
ABC works to involve all athletes on campus to dedicate some of their time to benefit the surrounding areas by partnering with the Boys and Girls Club, food pantries around Rome and other organizations each semester.
Every year ABC partners with a specific organization that they fundraise for over the course of the school year. In years past ABC has done multiple events that raised awareness for multiple sclerosis (MS). This year the club is interested in partnering with Extra Special People (ESP), an organization that works with individuals with disabilities, and raising awareness of athlete’s mental health.
Director of Management, senior Jen Aten said that the goal of ABC is to give back to their community.
“Hopefully every athlete would consider themselves an athlete bettering the community I think that our goal is to provide extra opportunities for people to get to volunteer or get to be part of the community, be part of something that raises money to give back,” said Aten.
ABC was founded in the early 2000s by Janna Johnson, the former associate athletics director. She started ABC in hopes of making a connection to the surrounding area with the athletes on campus. Johnson retired at the end of the 2021-22 school year in May.
Before Johnson retired, she asked Berry alumna Chrissy Voso (15c), Sales Force Administrator, to be the club’s new staff liaison.
“We are in a big transition period this year,” Chrissy Voso said.
She recalls that the club was also in a transition period when she was a member of ABC during her time at Berry as a student.
Chrissy Voso and her husband Mike Voso (14c) were both on ABC’s board when they were students at Berry. Chrissy Voso played volleyball while her husband was one of the first lacrosse players Berry ever had. During their time at Berry, Chrissy Voso was the Secretary and her husband the President of ABC.
There is a small group of representatives from different teams that make up the board of ABC including the Director of Management, Internal Communications Coordinator, External Communications Coordinator and Treasurer.
This year some of the sports represented on the board are volleyball, soccer, baseball, golf and football. Currently the board meets every Thursday morning to discuss and plan events for the fall and spring semester. In the future, ABC hopes to have a representative from each team in the club.
Junior Shirley Sharp, ABC’s director of external relations, said that ABC is not exclusive to athletes. If students are athletes, then they are automatically a member of ABC but not all members have to be athletes. All athletes and non-athlete students are welcome to join ABC if they have a heart for volunteer work.
“If you’re interested in service and serving our community, we would love to have you join ABC,” Sharp said.
Sharp played softball for a few seasons at Berry but then decided to step away from the sport. Even though she stepped away from softball, Sharp asked if she could still be involved with ABC since it was something that she is passionate about. She is now on ABC’s board and gladly serves her community.
“The goal of ABC is getting our athletes really involved in our community and showing that we care about other people,” Sharp said.
There is always an athletic focus to what ABC is doing however, events are open to everyone who wants to get involved.
Some of the events that ABC hosts are the fall and spring service days, a lip-sync battle and Christmas in the Cage.
During the fall and spring service days, athletes are sent out to serve at local organizations in Rome for a day then welcomed back on campus with a dinner provided by ABC.
In October, ABC will host a lip-sync battle where each sports team will compete against one another. Anyone is welcome to attend the competition as more details are to come soon.
Christmas in the Cage is another event that ABC hosts on campus. The club invites kids in the community onto campus to celebrate the holiday season. Some of the activities include decorating cookies, Zumba, corn hole, visiting with Santa and many other fun games with a different sports team at each station.
One of the clubs that ABC works with is the Boys and Girls Club, a free afterschool program that is a safe space for kids to go once their school day is over. Athletes with ABC will spend time with the kids for a few hours whether it be by playing games or helping them with homework. Athletes with ABC also do yard work on the grounds of the Berry Elementary and Middle School.
Scheduling of community events are always planned and sent out in advance. Coaches are made aware of the volunteer opportunities and often make ABC volunteer work mandatory for the different teams.