Castleton College has become the first member of the North Atlantic Conference to take part in 360 Proof, an initiative sponsored by the NCAA to educate and reduce the consumption of alcohol in student-athletes.
On March 13, all winter athletes at Castleton took a survey in Stafford Academic Center that collected information regarding the use of alcohol. The survey consisted of a variety of questions ranging from the frequency of alcohol use; whether the students participate in these activities in or out of season, or both, and the student-athlete’s purpose for drinking, whether it be celebratory, a coping method, or other reasons.
Castleton Associate Dean of Athletics Deanna Tyson is pleased with the idea of success associated with the Spartan name, however, she said if results showed a primary reason for participating in alcohol related activities was due to celebrating big wins, the program might find other ways athletes can celebrate while still having a good time.
Jeremy Benoit, a graduate assistant for Tyson, has been working with many schools across the conference to combat alcohol abuse.
“Every student-athlete provides a specific breakdown to provide a set of tools to assess alcohol abuse within our student athletes,” Benoit said.
The answers by students are anonymous and will be compiled with those from many other schools across the NCAA to provide a better understanding of how to go about setting up an effective educational approach to alcohol abuse.
One of the athletes who took part in the survey on Friday was Will Laking, a member of the Castleton men’s hockey team.
“I thought the survey was very educational and gave me a better understanding of how much alcohol is being consumed by many NCAA athletes on a daily basis,” Laking said.
One of the main goals of the program is to make student-athletes aware of alcohol abuse and understand the impact it can have on performance.
Tyson said her primary purpose for being the first institution in the NAC to incorporate 360 Proof into the athletic department is to educate Castleton athletes. She said she was happy to see the reactions of staff and faculty outside the athletic department and their response to what the department was taking part in.
“They were amazed that the athletic department is doing something about student-athletes drinking alcohol,” Tyson said, sitting at her Castleton engraved table as Spartan flags and posters covered the walls.
She also said faculty members are now aware that the department does more with student-athletes than simply helping them perform better.
Men’s soccer coach John O’Connor offered his input from a coach’s perspective. O’Connor hopes to use these surveys to compare performance and nutrition and the affects alcohol can have on performance.
O’Connor also holds the role of advising the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, and he said 360 Proof is another “part of our puzzle” in working with the community to improve the relationship for the big picture.
Some student athletes said the survey is likely useful, while others said they already had the knowledge of the negative impacts alcohol can have.
“I have grown up with the proper guidance to realize not to abuse alcohol in college,” said Derek Gingera, a junior on the hockey team.
In the future, colleges will aim to further that guidance by bringing in more programs and public figures that focus on educating athletes about abusing alcohol, Tyson said.