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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Guilford’s SAAC Gets Active in Local Community

While it may appear that student-athletes at Guilford College spend all of their free time practicing their sport and working out in the gym with beads of sweat dripping from their cheeks to the floor, this isn’t the case.When they’re not studying their playbooks, many athletes get involved with the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, or SAAC.

SAAC provides a vessel for student-athletes to participate in community-based activities and work closely alongside the administration to formulate athletic policies on campus.

According to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Web site, the mission of the Division III Student-Athlete Advisory Committee is to “enhance the total student-athlete experience by promoting opportunity for all student-athletes; protecting student-athlete welfare; and fostering a positive student-athlete image, while maintaining the tenets of the Division III philosophy.”

To comply with the NCAA’s mission, SAAC holds weekly meetings where student-athletes can talk about issues that their team have faced or are concerned about.

“Each of our varsity teams has two representatives that attend our meetings to make sure every team has a voice,” said president of SAAC and lacrosse player Kelly Gonzalez.

“The representatives are either voted on by their team, coach appointed, or volunteer,” said Emily Hayes, women’s volleyball coach and SAAC liaison between student-athletes and the athletics department.

In addition to soliciting student-athlete responses to proposed conference and NCAA legislation, SAAC representatives organize their team members to volunteer in programs like Reading Buddies and the Special Olympics.

“With the Reading Buddies program, student-athletes travel down the road at least once a week to New Garden Friends School to sit and read with elementary-aged students,” Hayes said.

“We just sit with a student and listen to them read aloud,” Gonzalez said. “It is a very easy way to help these children with their reading skills, while providing role models to them.”

While SAAC does not only exist at Guilford, many of its programs and social promises are unique to our athletic department.

“All member colleges of the NCAA are required to have a student-athlete advisory board of some kind,” said Assistant Professor of Sports Studies Bob Malekoff. “Our school has a very active SAAC (within the community), but this organization isn’t unique to Guilford.”

SAAC’s community involvement correlates with Guilford’s core values and sense of social responsibility.

In one of SAAC’s more internationally rooted community projects, student-athletes ventured throughout the local area as part of Trick or Treat for UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) and raised over $200 in only one hour.

These programs are just the beginning for Guilford’s SAAC.

“We are working on creating athletics fan clubs, and also preparing to apply for the NCAA CHAMPS/Life Skills program next year,” Hayes said.

In this program, each team will be given the opportunity to earn points by supporting fellow athletes at other sporting events, participating in community service, and by attending cultural events, such as dance, choir, or theater performances on campus.

The team that generates the highest number of points will be rewarded. The specifics of what these rewards entail have not yet been determined.

The Life Skills program may help improve the non-athletes’ perception of student-athlete activity on campus and in turn weaken Guilford’s notorious athlete/non-athlete divide.

“Many of our athletes already participate in the community and the Life Skills program will help to reward them and encourage others to become active in the community too,” Gonzalez said.

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