For the first time, Elizabethtown College Student-Athlete Mentors (SAMs) hosted the Blue Jays Never Drive Drunk Campaign Tuesday, Oct. 18 in Leffler Chapel and Performance Center. Erin Coombs from the Edward Taylor Coombs (ETC) Foundation spoke to Etown athletes about the impact drunk driving can have on a community.
In 2011, Coombs’ brother Edward died in a five person car crash caused by alcohol intoxication and speeding. The driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was about 0.10. The legal limit for those over the age of 21 is 0.08. According to Coombs, her brother did not know the driver had been drinking when he got in the car.
The crash occurred when the car took a curb at speeds of about 100 miles per hour. At the time, Edward Coombs was a rising sophomore at Marist College, where he played on the men’s lacrosse team.
“Here I am now telling you about my brother’s life. He isn’t telling you himself,” Coombs said.
In her brother’s memory, Coombs and her family created the ETC Foundation. Since then, the Foundation has awarded over $290,000 in scholarships to high school seniors to be used toward their college education. The scholarships are awarded to student-athletes like her brother.
In high school, Edward Coombs ran track and played football, soccer and lacrosse. He also regularly made the Honor Roll and was invited to the National Youth Leadership Forum on Law and Crime Scene Investigations (CSI) in Washington, D.C.
“[Edward] was a friend to all and a silent leader,” Coombs said.
Coombs also talked about the ripple effect. The driver’s decision to drive drunk not only affected him and those in the car, but it also affected their families and the community. According to Coombs, the death devastated her father emotionally and some of Edward Coombs’ friends are still grieving.
Another part of Coombs’ presentation was about how to drink safely and responsibly. Coombs suggested using the Virtual Bar app, which allows users to keep track of their BAC and know whether they are above the legal limit or not.
By entering their gender, height, weight and age and then selecting the type of drink and how long it took to consume, users can know their current BAC, the amount of time until their BAC returns to zero and the alcohol’s effect on their judgement and coordination. Users can also see how eating food will affect their BAC.
Coombs also stressed the importance of eating before and after drinking alcohol and of alternating between alcoholic beverages and water. She also told the audience to avoid drinking games.
“I know they’re fun, but so is your life,” Coombs said.
Another thing that Coombs stressed in her presentation was that the designated drivers should not consume any alcoholic beverages before they drive. If students or their designated drivers are too intoxicated to legally drive, Coombs suggested ordering an Uber or a taxi. She also shared that she often buys Ubers for other people.
“It’s better to intervene early than to hear something tragic the next day,” Coombs said.
After the presentation, three SAMs and the Etown mascot presented Coombs with a gift basket and hugged her. Then Etown athletes signed a banner against drunk driving.
The SAMs also encouraged the audience to sign a pledge to never drink and drive at bluejaysNDD.org. The SAMs had laptops set up in the lobby of Leffler for this purpose. Their goal was to have every athlete make the pledge.
The Techniques for Effective Alcohol Management (TEAM) Coalition, a non-profit dedicated to promoting responsible drinking and positive fan behavior at the professional and collegiate level of sports, supported both the banner and the pledge. It was through this Coalition that the SAMs learned about the ETC Foundation and Coombs.
SAMs senior Adelaide Stang, senior Morgan Chambers and junior Aaron Rathsam discovered the Coalition when they attended an APPLE conference in January. APPLE is a part of the Gordie Center for Substance Abuse Prevention at the University of Virginia and promotes student-athlete wellness and substance abuse prevention.
At this conference, the three SAMs learned about many topics, such as substance abuse, healthy living, nutrition and working out. They were also introduced to the idea of a never drive drunk campaign, which they decided to bring to campus this semester.
“[Drunk driving] affects everyone. It is more common than we like to think,” Rathsam said.
“My team’s my second family, and I would do anything for them. Everyone should be educated about drunk driving,” Chambers said.
An Escalation workshop for Etown athletes will be held Thursday, Oct. 20 at 4 p.m. in Hoover 107, 100 and 114.