NASHVILLE, Tennessee -- Members of the Earlham athletics and wellness departments, including two student-athletes, as well as a member of the Earlham student life staff, spent a weekend in Nashville, Tennessee attending the 26th annual APPLE Conference.
Padgett Gustavson, first-year defender on the Quakers' men's soccer team, and Isabela Lopez, junior midfielder on the women's soccer team, represented the Earlham student-athletes. Also on Earlham's APPLE team were: Cathryn Dickman, director of wellness programs and Kaitlin Leach, senior associate athletic director and senior woman administrator.
"This was my second time attending the APPLE Conference and I love going back each year." Lopez said, "I knew that it would inform me on alcohol and substance abuse and would help me inform my fellow classmates and teammates."
APPLE (Athletic Prevention Programming and Leadership Education Model) was founded by the University of Virginia (UVA) and UVA's Gordie Center for Substance Abuse Prevention in 1991 and identifies seven areas that athletic departments can impact substance abuse among student-athletes: recruitment, expectations and attitudes, policies, education, drug testing, sanctioning, and referral and counseling.
"I was interested in attending the APPLE conference because up until this conference I had received very little education on alcohol," Gustavson stated, "Especially on how alcohol can affect one's athletic performance."
Since 1992, the NCAA and UVA's Gordie Center have partnered to integrate the APPLE model at minimal cost to NCAA-member institutions through two annual conferences, which have been the leading national training symposiums dedicated to substance abuse prevention and health promotion for student-athletes and athletics department administrators. The goal of the conference is to assist schools in promoting student-athlete health and wellness by empowering teams of student-athletes and administrators to create an institution-specific action plan.
Both students had positive takeaways from the keynote speaker.
"I always enjoy listening to Linda Hancock," Lopez said. "I had the honor of introducing her when she came to speak on Earlham's campus. She is always so funny and engaging."
"Linda had the most impact on me specifically when she spoke about alcohol negatively affecting ones play," Gustavson added.
This year, Earlham's focus is the slice of the "APPLE" is on policy and sanctioning. The team hopes to implement alcohol, tobacco, and other drug expectations and sanctions.
"We always bring back an action plan. This year's action plan was to make sure that every team has a policy for alcohol and drugs for in and out of season and a consequence if they do not comply," Lopez stated. "We basically want to make sure that everyone is on the same page (coaches and players) about their policy and sanctioning."
"I am ready to help with drafting any policies and be a liaison between student-athletes and administration," said Gustavson excitedly. "Hopefully I can help educate some of my peers on the effects of alcohol."
Earlham has made trips to the APPLE conference in previous years. Last year, the team focused on the education programs slice and implemented a new course for upper class students on life skills and leadership development.
"I am grateful for the support of Earlham's division of student life, providing athletics this opportunity to truly make an impact on our campus and within the athletics culture," said Leach. "The APPLE conference is informational and motivational and creates this excitement for when you return to campus. Our student-athletes have done a fantastic job in making a difference on campus."