Rower uses Homecoming to promote cause

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Rower uses Homecoming to promote cause

Photo courtesy of Alabama Athletics

Photo courtesy of Alabama Athletics

Photo courtesy of Alabama Athletics

Photo courtesy of Alabama Athletics

Victoria Morris, Contributing Writer

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This year’s student-athlete nominee for Homecoming Queen came from the Alabama women’s rowing team.

A senior public relations major and French minor, Virginia Dodenhoff, was surrounded by love and support throughout her campaigning process.

Current teammate Rachel Sowell and senior Gillian Castro said Dodenhoff lights up a room with her positive and genuine personality.

“No one was more deserving to be the athletic nominee than Virginia [Dodenhoff],” Sowell said. “She cares about everyone she meets and is always looking for ways to serve others.”

Dodenhoff is highly involved on campus and within the Tuscaloosa community.

She used her campaign as a platform to promote Alberta Head Start, an early education program located near campus that helps children from five weeks old to six years old with learning disabilities, along with low-income families.

“Alberta Head Start is a place where kids can get a solid foundation with their education so they can go on to have bright futures at their next school,” Dodenhoff said.

She is also involved within other community outreach programs such as Big Brothers Big Sisters of West Alabama, Special Olympics and Night to Shine.

“Virginia [Dodenhoff] heavily encourages our team to take part in community service,” Sowell said. “She always presents our team with different opportunities to serve and give back.”

Dodenhoff’s favorite part of the homecoming experience was having so many people come out to Alberta to play with the kids.

The event raised over 250 books for the program.

In addition, Dodenhoff was able to spread awareness about the program, noting that every time someone volunteers at the school, Alberta Head Start receives $16.

“I had so many amazing people who supported me throughout the homecoming process,” she said.

One of the ways students showed support was by painting phrases on their car windows, such as “Vote 4 Virg” and “Virg is the Word.

The phrase “Virgalicious,” coined by her PR classmate Laney Howard, captured Dodenhoff’s campaign. Dodenhoff, along with her rowing teammates, was a part of a “Virgalicious” music video that was distributed as part of her campaign.

Her teammates also showed their support by attending a bonfire in honor of Dodenhoff.

“The athletic department as a whole this year showed so much support for Virginia [Dodenhoff],” Sowell said. “Each team was vital in campaigning for her and giving her a presence on campus.”

Dodenhoff represented all of Alabama’s student-athletes on the 2018-2019 Homecoming Court.

“It was such an honor to represent the student-athletes,” she said. “I will never be able to express how it felt. The student-athletes do so much in our community, and it was so amazing to be able to share with our campus some of the work we do.”

Her hard work and philanthropic service has been acknowledged through awards such as the Heart of Service Award and the Row Tide Pride Award.

Castro said Dodenhoff made a perfect Homecoming Queen candidate.

“Inside and outside of rowing, she is doing anything she can to make the those around her better,” Castro said.

After graduating from Alabama in May of 2019, she plans to continue being a part of the sports world. Her dream job is to be a publicist for football players or to work for Nike.