Marcus Valentine is one of the Tiger captains.
Courtesy: Scott Thornton
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Marcus Valentine is one of the Tiger captains.
Community Service Time Is Valentine's Day
Courtesy: Athletics Media Relations  
Release: 08/15/2011

TOWSON, Md. - When Rob Ambrose was named as the Tigers' head coach in 2009, he explained his philosophy of life and football.

When he said, "We are responsible for things greater than ourselves," that statement struck a chord with a young defensive lineman named Marcus Valentine.

"That made so much sense to me," the Sicklerville, N.J. native recalled. "When I heard him say it, I thought to myself 'that's my motto.' I have always really enjoyed doing community service and helping other people. It felt really good to hear Coach Ambrose say that."

As part of his vision for Tiger football, Coach Ambrose has encouraged his team to be more than just football players. He has made community service a priority for his team.

"I've always enjoyed making an impact in the community," says Valentine, a two-year starter on the line. "Whenever Coach Ambrose announces there is a community service project, I am one of the first ones to sign up. Then, I talk it up to my teammates and try to get as many involved as I can."

Jon Dahlquist, the Tigers' Director of Football Operations, coordinates all of the Community Service Projects that are done by the Tiger football team. Dahlquist says, "Marcus is the best when it comes to volunteering for community service. When we post a list, his name is usually the first one who signs up. Then, he goes around the locker room and encourages his teammates to sign up.

"A few months ago, we found out that a former Tiger football player, Joe Sclafani, had been stricken with a spinal disease which left him paralyzed from the neck down," Dahlquist recalls. "One weekend, a group of players went to his house and did work to help renovate the place so it was more accessible for him."

Marcus was one of the players who went to the house to help out.

Dahlquist adds, "Recently, I found out Marcus has been back there four or five times helping out and just visiting Joe Sclafani, a guy he had never met before. But, that's the way he is."

Marcus says he has been interested in volunteering and helping others since his teenage years. He recalls, "I used to really enjoy working with kids and coaching them in Little League and stuff. My mother is a teacher's aide at Bankbridge Regional High School in New Jersey and works with a lot of autistic kids. I've gotten to know a lot of them through her and done work with them. Last year, I went to a Special Olympics Bowl-In."

Among his favorite community service activities was the team's affiliation with Villa Maria Academy, a school for disadvantaged youths about 15 minutes from campus.

"During the football season, a group of us would take a bus up there and spend a few hours with the kids," recalls Marcus. "That was so gratifying. Those kids have had such tough lives and we really felt we were making a difference with them. It was great to see their faces' light up when we arrived at school.

"We built a lot of friendships and relationships with them," he added. "It was really hard at first because those kids aren't used to trusting anyone or having people care about them."

Marcus also enjoyed the football team's involvement with The Big Event, a campus-wide clean-up effort where students performed clean-up duties in neighborhoods that surround the campus.

"We want to show everyone that we are more than just football players," says Marcus. "By going off campus and doing clean-up work, we can make more relationships and do good work. Plus, all of the community service work brings us closer together as a football team."

Coach Ambrose says, "Marcus has emerged as a true leader on this football team. He is a leader on the field, in the locker room, in the classroom and in our community service efforts. He  wasn't able to participate in spring practice because of an off-season shoulder surgery. But, he was out there at every practice and he still did all the community service work that he could with his arm in a sling."

On the football field, Valentine is a two-year starter at defensive tackle. In his first three seasons, he has played in all 34 games of his career and started 22 of them. He has made 115 tackles. Last year, he ranked 17th among Colonial Athletic Association defensive linemen with 40 tackles. He also recovered two fumbles and returned one of them for a touchdown, running three yards for a TD against seventh-ranked Massachusetts.

A Criminal Justice major with a minor in Family Studies, Marcus plans to continue working with people after he graduates.

He explains, "I feel it's my responsibility to work with the less fortunate and I enjoy it. Whatever I do, I want to make a difference."

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