Altreche Wins ECAC Award of Valor
July 20, 2005
AMHERST, MA - Amherst College men's lacrosse goalie Raul Altreche (Bronx, NY) has been named the lone NCAA Division III recipient of the 2005 Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Award of Valor, as announced by ECAC Commissioner Phil Buttafuoco on Wednesday. Established in 1985, the award honors one student-athlete representing ECAC schools in Divisions I, II and III whose courage, motivation and relentless determination serve as an inspiration to all, exemplifying strength of character, perseverance, and most importantly, accomplishment deserving recognition as being truly triumphant.
Altreche will be recognized at the ECAC Fall Convention Honors Dinner, presented by Jostens, on Sunday, September 25, at the Four Points by Sheraton Hyannis Resort in Hyannis, Mass., along with fellow recipients Erin Bingham of Dartmouth College and Jennifer Strysko of the University of Rhode Island.
Born in poverty in the Bronx, N.Y., where both of his parents passed away when he was very young, Altreche spent much of his childhood bouncing around between relatives and switching schools on countless occasions, often missing school for months at a time. At 12 years old, he looked at his crumbling Bronx surroundings and decided he wanted something better - that he had something to prove. He sought teachers who would help with his reading and a counselor who would assist with the high school application process. Despite his considerable lack of schooling, his potential was readily apparent, and he was accepted into a program called "A Better Chance" (ABC), which takes bright, motivated students of color from disadvantaged backgrounds and places them in educational environments that affirm and nurture their academic talent. Through ABC, Altreche enrolled at Daniel Hand High School in Madison, Conn., where he lived in the school's ABC house with six other students and two resident directors. There, he flourished, becoming only the second freshman in the history of Daniel Hand's ABC program to earn a 10.0 grade-point average (the equivalent of an A-). At first, he had difficulty fitting in with Daniel Hand's affluent, mostly white student body, but gained acceptance through sports, playing football, wrestling and lacrosse, despite the fact that he was overweight, out of shape, had never played a team sport in his life and had never even heard of lacrosse or wrestling. Lacrosse became his sport of choice and his confidence soared. By sophomore year he was class president, as a junior he was one of only two students selected to represent Daniel Hand at Boys State, and as a senior he was a member of the National Honor Society. He ended up at Amherst thanks in large part to the efforts of his high school guidance counselor and Amherst lacrosse coach Tom Carmean, whom Altreche met at a lacrosse camp at Springfield College. Now, despite incredible odds, Altreche finds himself with a seat at the table of one of the most elite academic institutions in the country, and he's taken full advantage. He joined LaCausa, a Hispanic group on campus, and spent the summer after his freshman year working for the College, planning Orientation trips for incoming first-year students. He also works as a residence counselor, and last summer, he taught underprivileged African-American and Hispanic kids at a summer program at Harvard University. Once again, he's spending this summer teaching at-risk Hispanic middle school children as part of a program called "Face to Face" in Mt. Kisco, N.Y. (a suburb of New York City).
And on the Amherst lacrosse team, Altreche has played sparingly but well, as exemplified by his game-winning save in a 6-5 NESCAC Tournament win over Bowdoin as a sophomore. More importantly, he's been an inspiration to teammates, coaches, opponents and administrators alike, exemplifying the values of respect, caring, fairness, civility, honesty, integrity and responsibility on a daily basis.
"Despite all he's been through, Raul remains the most positive person you could ever meet," says Amherst sports information director Kevin Graber. "He's affected everyone he's come in contact with at Amherst College in an exceptionally profound way, and I believe we are all better people for knowing him."
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