SYRACUSE, N.Y. - Student-athletes within the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) are dedicated to raising mental health awareness, and eliminating the stigma across all SUNYAC campuses. It has been their mission since the fall retreat in September, and after participating in the spring retreat in Syracuse this past week, SAAC members aquired more strategies to bring back to campus.
SAAC is a group that every conference and member institution is mandated to have by NCAA legislation. The committee consists of student-athlete representatives nominated by their team. On the institutional level they are able to work with their advisor, usually someone in the athletic department, or a coach to provide insight and concerns on the student-athlete experience at their respective schools. In addition, on the conference level for the SUNYAC, the SAAC offers representatives from each school direct communication with the conference office giving them the ability to address any issues they might be facing on campus as student-athletes as well as having an input on the rules, regulations and policies that affect student-athletes.
The retreat began Sunday afternoon with the students' arrival and a chance to get to meet and know each other through icebreakers. By late afternoon, in order to provide a team building opportunity, the group was treated to a fun-filled adventure at "Escape the Mystery Room", located at the nearby Destiny USA Mall in Syracuse. This was an opportunity for the student's to let loose, have fun, and get to know each other before their big agenda the next day.
When Monday morning came around, the student-athletes rolled up their sleeves and got right to business, continuing to discuss ways to improve their mental health awareness initiative. "We're really taking the motto 'Shatter the Stigma' to heart with this," SUNYAC SAAC Executive Board President Matt Norris explained.
Norris, a Cortland senior, along with other members of SAAC groups across SUNYAC institutions, admit that despite their efforts back in the fall, rolling out their plan has been a bumpy start.
2019-2020 Board of Directors
From left to right: James Hennessy (New Paltz) - Cabinet Alternate, James Hartunian (Plattsburgh) - Vice President of Legislation, Connor Lewis (Cortland) - President, Reilly Workman (Brockport) - Vice President of Communications, Kristen Lasker (New Paltz) - Vice President of Community Engagement, Brianna Lawless (Brockport) - Cabinet Alternate