UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Athletic Department Enjoys Substantial Presence in Local Community


Courtesy of Oderra Jones



Anyone connected to UMass Boston will tell you that athletics aren’t the first thing on their mind. Low attendance and campus buzz are often the biggest issues that dog our teams, but when you look out past the campus, into the Boston community, the Beacons have quite a presence.

UMass teams participate in all sorts of charitable causes in Dorchester and the surrounding neighborhoods, from walking in the Susan G. Coleman Walk For A Cure, to hosting children from local YMCA’s at the Clark Center for clinics, the Beacons are major players in the Greater Boston community.

The man behind all of this action is Oderra Jones, the athletic department’s Director of Community Outreach and Engagement. Although he’s only been on the job since January, Jones has stepped up the program considerably since he’s arrived. He previously worked at the MetroWest YMCA before coming to campus.

When asked about the work his department does, Jones said, “The basic purpose of the department is multi faceted. A lot of the work we do helps the local community, at the same time getting our teams involved as well.” Jones pointed up at a whiteboard  filled with different events in his office and added, “Events can range from doing a basketball clinic for Big Brothers Big Sisters to working with the Special Olympics to working with the Early Learning Center here on campus or with the charter schools in our neighborhood.”

The Beacon teams also get a lot out of the events. Jones said, “(the events) give them an opportunity to engage the community. Not all of our student athletes are from the area…so it kind of engrains them into the community around the campus. They like the events a lot, it’s fun for them.”

Jones has witnessed the department become a major player in the area and have a huge impact on youths in Greater Boston. The athletic department has received quite a few accolades from the city.

“Vice Chancellor Titus has received a lot of awards. He just received one last month that had community service and community outreach,” said Jones, who added, “This is one of our programs that we take seriously, being the only public university in Boston, and being where we are in Boston. Our Vice Chancellor is the one who spearheads it.”

Jones said that his favorite events to plan are the ones in which student athletes can get something out of them, as well as the youths they’re working with. Although he loves programs that involve athletics, he also said, “I love it when student athletes get out of their comfort zone, when they do something that they wouldn’t normally do.”

Jones said that one of his biggest goals for his tenure is to bring the athletic department closer with the main university. Non-athlete students are welcome to volunteer at events in and around the campus. He said, “I want to bridge the gap between the campus and the teams. We will get student athletes volunteering at the U-Acess food pantry program soon, as well as other causes on campus.”

One thing’s for sure: while the campus as a whole may not recognize and commend Beacon teams on a daily basis (for now), the community around campus is very thankful for their contributions. Jones and his staff have done a spectacular job when it comes to getting student athletes involved in Boston and the surrounding areas, and their work is just beginning to pay off.