This week’s alum spotlight is on Greg Accarino from GU Men’s Crew. Check it out here!
Name: Greg Accarino
Grassroots Nickname: Greggypants
Year you graduated: 2012
Where are you from: White Plains, NY
Sport: Men’s Lightweight Crew
School & Major: College, double majoring in Government & Theology
Schools you did programs in: Head Coach at Brown, Jefferson, & Francis Stevens
Favorite Grassroots game: Choices. I feel as though this is the best and most informative game to start off the Grassroot semester. Choices sets the tone for the program, allowing each student’s voice to be heard and valued, as well as passing on what I believe to be some of the most serious HIV statistics concerning DC.
What is your most memorable Grassroots moment:
My last semester at Georgetown I went to a school on Friday and we played the games with the students. All the students participated in every game so well and knew all the answers. I was surprised, but also really pleased at how much the students already knew about HIV. Only after the session did I come to find out that on Monday another Grassroots group came, and instead of us splitting the groups, they had taught all the students. I was so impressed with how much the students retained from just one session of Grassroots, as well as how polite they were when they basically heard the same information twice. This showed me the most important result I could have wanted as a Grassroot’s coach, the fact that the students really do hold on to the key messages of HIV awareness.
What are you doing now?
I’m attending law school at the University of Miami in Florida. I plan to enter the fields of international law and cultural properties law.
What lessons did you learn in Grassroots that have carried over to your job now?
Management and handling pressure. From helping run training for athletes and sessions with the students, the lessons I have learned from Grassroots about management have carried over to my work now. On many occasions, I’ve worked with the Grassroots team and together we have handled time restraints and pressured situations very well, all the while staying relaxed and focus, understanding the importance and value of the messages about HIV prevention we were spreading.
What advice would you give a new Grassroots coach?
Respect the students because you can learn from them as much as they can learn from you. The learning curve for a Grassroots Coach a tough one. During training your blasted with many games with many messages concerning HIV awareness, however, you learn them with your peers and other college athletes . Suddenly you find yourself in a school with 20 students in 6th to 8th grade who are not as welcoming at first. However, if you stick it out and lead each game with a stern voice, smile, and an attitude in which you are also willing to learn, you will see 20 different students; students who have warmed up and are visibly excited when you arrive. When that change happens, and when you see the tangible results of the post quizzes at the end of the semester, you will know that every second you put into Grassroots was worth it.
What advice would you give Grassroots athletes who are getting ready to enter the real world?
You have one of the hardest working teams behind you who want nothing but your success. Remember your not alone, but part of the Grassroots team; a team that will help you with open arms whenever you need them.
Where do you see Grassroots going in 5 years?
I see Grassroots spreading from college to college and city to city. Every member of the Grassroots team is so involved with the spreading HIV awareness, and this stems done from the unparalleled drive, passion, and ethic of the founder, Tyler Spence, and Deidra Sanders. The message of Grassroots is so valuable, but they way the program is set up is what makes it so powerful. The teachers I have worked with all have told me that numerous groups have come through their schools teaching and lecturing the students about HIV and sex education, but none have had a result even as close to that of Grassroots. There is something truly special about college athletes teaching the students that creates a connection and relationship unlike any other, and I hope everyone who can will get involved.