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During our first weekend back from winter break, girl’s soccer coach Keri Sanchez and handful of student-athletes including Ashton Clarke, Helena Bottemiler, and Nicole Sady-Kennedy attended a Division III Student-Athlete Leadership Conference hosted by the NCAA. Our school’s SAAC (Student-Athlete Advisory Committee) met (with several other Division III schools from all over the country) in Irving, Texas, to ultimately create a project to improve student-athlete and faculty relations.

Various issues concerning student-athletics were discussed including off-season practice times, sportsmanship, and student-athlete welfare. Some regulations gave some fall sports a few days to practice before their first games; others were forcing teams to practice without their coach and in some cases without a ball.

CMC’s SAAC ultimately focused on improving student-athlete and faculty relations which they determined was the most pressing issue they could adequately address given their one weekend stay. Our school’s SAAC felt that by helping facilitate better relations between athletes and their professors, they would also make progress in other areas like fan attendance and sportsmanship. To get a better understanding of the issues I spoke with SAAC candidate Nicole Sady-Kennedy.

She explained that the plan itself consisted of four main parts each designed to “generate faculty support.”

The first plan proposed by Coach Keri Sanchez would have a collective letter (as well as a letter from each coach) addressed to the faculty as a sign of goodwill and a pledge of support that would emphasize that each students coach “supports and acknowledges the academic aspect of the students life.”

The second idea is to have a student-faculty softball game in the spring, to give “students and professors a chance to bond outside of the classroom.” If non-athletes wished to participate they would also have the chance to play as well.

The next idea would be for each team to “adopt” a professor for the “all sports banquet.” This professor would ideally be on who supported the team, and the banquet would give the professor a chance to see “what his/her students has achieved outside the classroom” and be acknowledge and thanked for their support.

The last plan would make supporting events more family friendly. This fourth idea (which is already being implemented by the girl’s volleyball team) would let professors’ kids “take part in the huddles before the games and encourage them to sit on the bench and meet with the players.” The kids would also get CMC stag and Athena memorabilia to take home after the game.

At the conference our committee also participated in different psychological tests meant to help identify and learn about each individual’s different strengths and the strategies they should keep in mind while they lead ‘both on and off the field.” The two tests administered were the SLPI and DISC profile personality tests.

The way SAAC works is each school has a SAAC committee composed of student athletes that offer input on the rules, regulations, and policies governing their respective schools. They work with national-level SAAC committee workers who are in turn, “charged with the responsibility of assisting in the review of NCAA proposed legislation and representing the voice of the student-athlete in the NCAA governance structure.”