With this amount of funding, Coach Marcucio knew there was only one thing to do and that was to use it for the benefit of the Westhill student-athletes (and eventually all student extracurricular activities and sports boys or girls) by establishing a support system and program that would provide very specific tutoring and mentoring programs within Westhill’s athletic department for its student-athletes. With the support of his direct administrators, Coach Marcucio relied on his previous experience of being involved in the Play It Smart Program that was run by the National Football Foundation when he was coaching at Wilbur Cross High School in New Haven,CT in 2005 and 2006 and he sought out to set up a similar program at Westhill.
Unfortunately, he soon discovered that the Play It Smart Program was a victim of the recession of 2008-2009 and was nolonger in existence. After doing an incredible amount of research, Coach Marcuciostumbled upon the ATHLife Foundation which was being run by Jeff McCann and Jon Harris. Mr. McCann and Coach Marcucio knew each other from having worked together as part of the Play It Smart Program in New Haven when Mr. McCann was at Hillhouse and Coach Marcucio was at Wilbur Cross so reaching out to Mr. McCann was easy.
Making a long story short, (all the information about the ATHLife Foundation is at www.athlife.org),Coach Marcucio, working with Mr. King and Ms. Figluizzi, set Westhill Out to become the 20th member of the ATHLife Army and the only school in Connecticut and in New England that is part of the ATHLife Network. Westhill is currently one of eight schools in the Tri-State Area that belong to ATHLife ( two are in New Jersey and five are in New York). With this funding and network, Westhill has embarked on developing a program specifically aimed at its student-athlete population. Now known as the Westhill Purple PACT (PACTis short for Players’ Academic Counseling and Tutoring), the program is designed to aid Westhill student-athletes in many areas providing them with resources and tools to obtain academic excellence in the classroom while excelling on the field.
The Purple PACT program is a tremendous benefit to a great number of the student-athletes at Westhill. This is because many of Westhill’s student-athletes and their families lack thefinancial and support resources that are readily available in the
more affluent communities in lower Fairfield County and to the more affluent students and student-athletes from within the Westhill community itself. Westhill is a high school that has an interesting economic demographic within its community of “haves” and “have nots”. Probably close to 50% to 60% of the participants in its athletic programs come from minority and economically disadvantaged backgrounds and many student- athletes live in neighborhoods with high crime, gang activity and high school dropout rates.
The Purple PACT Program has put in place specific mentoring and tutoring programs including SAT Prep classes, subject specific tutoring, a program called the Football Journey, leadership programming and community service mentoring, and transition programming for our incoming freshmen. This has all been accomplished in the last two years in an effort to increase SAT scores, GPA’s, college placement of our student athletes and to provide our student athletes with services and programs that many from our more underprivileged student athlete population would not be able to afford.
While the Purple PACT Program has shown great success in initially providing the Student-athletes at Westhill, specifically those on the football team, with pathways that have improved academic success in the classroom and equal successes on the field, the program is currently run without a permanent and full time staff person in place. This means there is no one person who is dedicated to running the Purple PACT Program across all sports teams and for all student-athletes at Westhill. This is unlike other ATHLife programs that have permanently funded academic coaches and resources in place. This creates a gap in programming and is an area that Coach Marcucio, Ms. Figluzzi, Mr. Larry Savo (the school’s current AD) and both Chuck and Sharon wish to address for the Purple PACT by finding a long term philanthropic funding partner which can create a long-term permanent increased funding source for this program. It is hoped that such a partner would allow a permanent “academic coach” to be hired to run all aspects of the program for all student-athletes and all sports and extra-curricular teams at Westhill.
Our hope is to expand the Purple PACT to be able to reach out and interface with all sudent athletes at Westhill and make it available to all of the sports offered at Westhill.
Currently, there are 27 Interscholastic Boys and Girls Programs at Westhill, including football.
The other sports include:
INDOOR TRACK (boy’s and girl’s),
OUTDOOR TRACK (boy’s and girl’s)
CROSS COUNTRY (boy’s and girl’s)
FIELD HOCKEY (girl’s)
SOCCER (boy’s and girl’s),
SWIMMING AND DIVING (boy’s and girl’s),
BASKETBALL (boy’s and girl’s)
HOCKEY (boy’s and girl’s),
LACROSSE (boy’s and girl’s)
TENNIS (boy’s and girl’s)
GOLF (boy’s and girl’s)
Like the PLAY IT SMART Program, the Purple “Pact” program was “created to take advantage of the voluntary nature of sport participation and has been designed in accordance with knowledge gained from the previous research” of Dr. Al Petipas of Springfield College and the successes of the Play It Smart Program and its intervention efforts. Therefore, the goal of the Purple PACT Program Like Play It Smart is “to strengthen the team identity as well as provide support and skill building activities for individual student-athletes.”