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Gordie Center

for Substance Abuse Prevention

Student Athlete Mentors

The Student Athlete Mentor (SAM) Program is the primary substance abuse prevention program in the Athletics Department.

The SAM program was developed at the University of Virginia in 1989 as a joint effort between the Athletics Department and the Institute for Substance Abuse Studies (now the Gordie Center for Substance Abuse Prevention).   A Student-Athlete Mentor serves as a peer to peer resource to other students on his or her team to help prevent substance abuse.  SAMs receive valuable training in alcohol and other drug abuse prevention throughout the year and learn to use educational and professional resources to support their efforts.

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SAMs have the opportunity to:

  • Be leaders
  • Make a difference in the lives of friends, teammates and peers
  • Interact with other student-athletes and administrators
  • Build skills
  • Work independently to create model prevention programs

SAM imageShootout for Cancer

Sponsored by the SAMs, this fun, carnival-style event each April allows children and families to meet and play games with U.Va. athletes.  The program was created in 1993 in honor of U.Va. soccer player Curt Onalfo, who was diagnosed with lymphoma in the early 1990s.  Shoot Out for Cancer supports the UVA Stem Cell Transplantation Program.  Since 2009, SAMs raised over $17,000 for cancer research. 

SAMs Say Health and Wellness Campaign

The SAMs Say campaign is part of a comprehensive, peer-led initiative.  Created by student-athletes, the SAMs Say campaign addresses health and wellness topics unique to the student-athlete.  Topics reflect current issues facing students but with an athletics lens.  Click here to view the posters

For more information about SAMs, please contact the SAM co-advisors:

Holly Deering, Gordie Center for Substance Abuse Prevention - hollyd@virginia.edu
Kate Stephensen, Department of Athletics - kas5by@virginia.edu