Spotlight Athlete: Megan Denisom
Student-athletes are charged with being leaders in all aspects of their lives. Once an athlete reaches the university level of play, they are often informed that part of their identity has been forfeited. When headlines are made it is no longer simply the name of the student that comes first, but rather the team that he or she plays on. Student-athletes are representing their university and team at all times.
Some prefer not to have this type of recognition, as the pressure to be a positive example every second of the day is quite overwhelming. On the other hand, there are student-athletes like Megan Denison, who not only embraces the responsibility, but welcomes it with open arms, using her position on an athletic team as a platform to impact the community.
The term "impact" is not only fitting as the goal of Denison, but also as the name of the organization she has worked hard to bring to RPI, Team Impact!
Team Impact is an organization that was established in the Spring of 2011 by a group of former classmates and student-athletes of Tufts University. The main goal is to improve the quality of life for children facing life-threatening and chronic illnesses through the power of the team. As athletes, they believe that the power of the "team" is so strong that it can impact children, their families, and the college athletic team itself. This goal is met by matching the children with local athletic teams at colleges and universities. The child is "drafted" onto the team as an official member and stays with the team through graduation.
After hearing about the program through a friend who was a part of the Babson College field hockey team, Megan knew she wanted to spread the impact as well. In 2012 she did just that, by brining Team Impact to the campus of RPI!
Because the Team Impact had yet to be established in the immediate area, Megan worked relentlessly as an ambassador to mobilize the local hospitals and schools. She also opened the lines of communication between the RPI athletic department and Team IMPACT by introducing the organization at SAAC meetings to gain awareness. The student-athletes were very enthusiastic about the idea and this past winter, Colbie was drafted to the RPI women's hockey team, and Keeghan with Megan's own RPI women's basketball team.
"This new spin on the idea of enhancing the quality of life for these children is a powerful one, in my opinion," Denison said.
While the initial goal is to provide additional support and camaraderie for the children, the athletes are impacted as well.
"RPI is a very stressful environment academically so after a long day in the classroom, seeing Keeghan at practice sporting all of her new RPI gear, with a huge smile on her face lets you forget everything else around you."
Megan has had the opportunity to personally develop strong relationships with teammates and their families, coaches, and trainers throughout her sports career. She believes these relationships make up the core of her character, drive, and passion for everything she does.
"To give someone else the opportunity to build a network like this and benefit in ways that I have is a great feeling."
The women's basketball team plans on having Keeghan as a member for as long as she wants. Megan will continue to be an ambassador for the program and hopes to be able to match more teams in the near future. With 445 kids, 226 schools, in 35 states, Team Impact is meeting its mission with the help of student-athletes like Megan!