The American Canoe Association (ACA) and the University of Mary Washington (UMW) today announced a partnership that will help athletes fulfill their Olympic or Paralympic dreams. Through this unique partnership, UMW will provide online continuing education opportunities at no cost for ACA’s Team USA canoe and kayak athletes.
The oldest and largest paddlesports organization in the U.S. with members in 39 countries, ACA is also the National Governing Body for the Olympic and Paralympic canoe and kayak disciplines that comprise 22 medal events. It has its headquarters in Fredericksburg, Va., where UMW is located.
ACA Executive Director Wade Blackwood said, “Canoeing and kayaking are not NCAA sports, so we don’t have a traditional pipeline of athletes. Recruiting athletes is challenging because most of our elite student athletes could participate in another traditional NCAA sport while still pursuing their education.” Because these athletes do not want to put their college education on hold while training, Blackwood said, “We are thrilled that the University of Mary Washington will help our Team USA athletes accomplish both their athletic and academic goals on and off the water.”
This partnership represents the first of ACA’s Olympic Paddlesports Academic Centers.
UMW is a premier liberal arts and sciences university established in 1908, and named for the mother of our nation’s founding father. Selected by Forbes as one of America’s “Top Colleges,” it has a rich history of traditions and academic excellence. The university, with a total enrollment of about 4,500, features colleges of business, education and arts and sciences, and three campuses, including a residential campus in Fredericksburg, Va., a second one in nearby Stafford and a third in Dahlgren, Va.
Keith E. Mellinger, dean of UMW’s College of Arts and Sciences, said: “We are excited to leverage our proximity to the Rappahannock River and the ACA in order to provide opportunities for Olympic athletes to continue their education while training to represent the country on the international sports stage.” He added, “This partnership represents another example of UMW’s commitment as a public institution.”
Starting in August 2018, athletes who qualify for the ACA’s national team will be eligible to take online courses at UMW at no cost for team members. ACA Board member Dr. Kirk Havens said “The ACA Board of Directors is working to create a better support system for our athletes as they pursue their Olympic aspirations. Education is something we shouldn’t ask our athletes to forgo, and we need to continue to create these types of educational opportunities in order to recruit – and keep – top athletes.”