LIVERPOOL, N.Y. - On Sunday, members of the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) attended the second annual SUNYAC SAAC Spring Retreat located at the Holiday Inn in Liverpool, N.Y. The retreat, which concluded Monday afternoon, gave SAAC representatives from each member institution an opportunity to come together and discuss current issues and legislation and build new relationships with other current SAAC leaders.
In brief, the SUNYAC SAAC supports student-athletes by providing the communication of ideas and concerns between student-athletes and the SUNYAC within a structure that will promote active involvement. SUNYAC SAAC is also committed to engaging in campus and community service projects and to serving as positive role models for their peers and younger student-athletes.
At the start of Sunday's agenda, SUNYAC SAAC leaders sat together and discussed the committee's current constitution, presented new legislation to the group and were briefed on conference updates by the conference commissioner, Tom Di Camillo. By late afternoon, in order to provide a team building opportunity, the group was treated to a fun-filled adventure at 5 Wits, located at the nearby Destiny Mall in Syracuse. The group had dinner together and enjoyed some time at Dave & Busters later that night.
Brockport senior SAAC representative Marcus Blythers, with a smile on his face, explained, "It was so much fun, just having fun, eating, talking, and being average college students was the best."
Fredonia's Ben Chatley, the SUNYAC SAAC Alternate, said "In the end, we're all here for one common goal, and that's to improve the student-athlete experience and better the conference from our own perspectives."
By day two, one of the major topics of discussion was the SUNYAC's conference-wide initiative supporting the One Love Foundation's Yards for Yeardley. In response to raising awareness for domestic violence, each SUNYAC institution will engage in a campaign geared towards 10 Million Yards for Yeardley. During the discussion, SUNYAC SAAC had the opportunity to engage in a video conference call with Jaklyn Van Manen of One Love to discuss the upcoming 10 Million Yards for Yeardley campaign. This is the first known conference-wide initiative to take place nationwide. For more information regarding the One Love Foundation and Yards for Yeardley CLICK HERE.
In discussing the progress SUNYAC SAAC has made within the past year, Cortland junior women's golfer and SUNYAC SAAC Vice President of Communications, Taylor O'Halloran said "To come together through Yards for Yeardley, we've had the opportunity to solidify our conference SAAC, and be able to work together with each other...and that's really something our student-athletes should be proud of."
Day two also featured a discussion about the conference's involvement with the Special Olympics and other SUNYAC SAAC events. At the conclusion of day two, group leaders initiated the nominating and voting process for current SAAC representatives wanting to run for an Executive Board leadership position for the upcoming 2017-18 campaign year.
Chatley explained the conference's future and how it will continue to improve. "At each individual school, we're really seeing a push for underclassmen involvement...learning more about the student-athlete experience, how we ourselves can change that and make it better...it's really going to solidify our position as one of the nation's elite groups."
Summarizing his three SUNYAC SAAC Retreats together and what they meant to him, Oswego's Sean Maloney, the SUNYAC SAAC Vice President of Legislation, explained "Being able to meet all the other student-athletes, informally hanging out and getting to know them, you realize you're really all the same people, just wanting to pursue your athletic goals, but also be a leader."
By the end of the SUNYAC SAAC Spring Retreat, student-athletes had the opportunity to say their final goodbyes. When the student-athletes find themselves back on campus, the hope is that they will serve as ambassadors and continue to help improve the overall student-athlete experience with a new set of tools and resources.