This is part of a series highlighting recent ACE participants who are finding meaningful ways to connect and build on their ACE experience beyond their three-week ACE summer program. After student-athlete participants complete their ACE summer, they are encouraged to think about a specific goal that connects their ACE experience to their life in a meaningful way. ACE staff support this process through the development of a personal ACE Action Plan and 1-1 coaching, group meetings, and check-ins throughout the year. Learn more about the ACE Plan Process and other ways ACE student-athletes are supported post-experience.
Anthony Hinton – a junior on the Duke Football team and a participant in the 2021 ACE in Place Vietnam program – is making an impact on and off the field as he continues to implement his ACE Action Plan.
Anthony is helping Duke Football partner with Team IMPACT, an organization that tackles the emotional trauma and social isolation experienced by children facing chronic illnesses by matching them with a college athletic team. The children develop relationships and skills that help them heal fully.
Hinton talked about the inspiration for this idea. “In reflecting on my ACE experience, I realized there was a need for a leader off the field and in the community.” He explained how due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a lack of community service on the football team, which was something he had always enjoyed and wanted to see come back.
The process of partnering an entire team with a family and a child is not easy. The Team IMPACT process is necessarily thorough, and Hinton revealed that there have been a few obstacles along the way, especially in the fall semester.
“That’s part of my goal – to keep my teammates conscious of how lucky we are, aware of the community we’re in and how we can serve them, and just in general create an attitude shift on the team.”
– Anthony Hinton, ACE in Place Vietnam 2021
“We had been reached out to by the [Team IMPACT] family, and there were just a lot of issues with COVID that meant we couldn’t get it started at the time. And then we had everything done – all the paperwork filled out, everything ready to go, and then we had the coaching staff change, so unfortunately that put us in another holding pattern.” Despite this, he and his team have forged ahead, and they are close to finishing that paperwork for a second time and officially partnering with a Team IMPACT family.
Now, there is a lot to look forward to. The team is excited, and Hinton described how teammates will approach him in the locker room and ask him how the process is going, or when they will meet their Team IMPACT family.
“It’s nice to know that when we finally do reach the point where we make this a reality, how caring everybody is going to be and how much energy is going to be around it. The payoff is going to be great.”
Beyond this one project, Hinton hopes to leave a lasting impact on Duke Football’s approach to life and service.
“This attitude applies with the hurdles that pop up in community service: we can overcome it if we are all willing to do the work to overcome it.”
– Anthony Hinton, ACE in Place Vietnam 2021
“That’s part of my goal – to keep my teammates conscious of how lucky we are, aware of the community we’re in and how we can serve them, and just in general create an attitude shift on the team. We’re all guilty of [losing sight of this], but once you get to college it’s very easy to get swept up by the millions of things that are going on. It’s very easy to get caught up in yourself, and I hope we’re able to change that culture – that we can look and say, ‘Yes, we’re busy, but what can we do for other people?’ The position we’re in, which we’re very fortunate to be in, can be a platform to speak on issues and help other people.”
The process as a whole has also changed how Hinton himself approaches service: with renewed resilience.
“There is going to be obstacles in everything you do, unfortunately that’s just part of life. This goes back to participating in ACE in Place Vietnam as well: you’re trying to teach a camp with a 12-hour time difference and you don’t get to see the kids [because it’s all virtual], but I was always amazed over the summer at how everybody was so excited and happy to be there when I talked to the other Duke and Stanford ACE student-athletes. This attitude applies with the hurdles that pop up in community service: we can overcome it if we are all willing to do the work to overcome it. There is always going to be a reason not to, but we can band together and overcome those things and still be successful.”
Hinton has been successful in creating change through his ACE Action plan and left some words of advice for other student-athletes trying to do the same.
“Don’t get swept up or overwhelmed in the planning process. Take it step-by-step and recognize the actionable things you can do.”
Here’s to making an impact.