SAAC Ensures Student Athletes Have a Voice

Photo courtesy of Yesenia Colindres

Everyone’s voice deserves to be heard, which is why the Student Athlete-Advisory Committee at John Jay is committed to helping student athletes’ voices be heard by staff and executives. The Student Athlete-Advisory Committee (SAAC) sends one or two representatives from each team. Then the representatives meet with the committee and discuss any problems or concerns with each team or within the Athletics Department.

The Student Athletic-Advisory Committee promotes an exceptional student athlete experience. They try to help make student athletes feel like they can talk to Athletic Directors and other staff as well. The Committee also tries to build a strong relationship with one another and create a positive community.

The club aspect of SAAC was put into effect about a year ago and is now located in L2 in the New Building, in the area known as “Club Row.” The goal of the club is to try to bridge the gap between student athletes and non-student athletes. There’s a general belief that teams, especially in a school setting, tend to be inclusive and are even considered to be “cliquey.” SAAC is trying to change that image and help both groups to branch out and make new friendships and network with other people besides their teammates or their regular friends.

While building the bridge between the two groups could be a difficult task, SAAC President Jessica Jean (known to most as Jean) has many ideas and events to help bring student athletes and non-student athletes together. One idea is “fan vans,” which would help students that are looking to support and watch away games have a way to get to the game and back to the school. Fan vans would be especially helpful for sports like soccer and baseball, because their home games are never on campus but all the way at the fields on Randall’s Island. Another event is the annual potluck where students bring dishes representing either their background, culture, or simply just their favorite foods. SAAC sponsors coat drives and can drives, which are also great ways to meet new people. “You’re building those connections that last a lifetime because I’ve seen it happen from my freshman year to now,” Jean said. “It could be a little conversation or just giving your email and it can escalate into something bigger than that.”

Jean has seen a number of positive changes in SAAC throughout her four years as a student athlete and SAAC member. These changes include more students coming to meetings, involvement from coaches, and getting the club to be more open. The word is being spread by Jean that, “Even if your coach didn’t tell you to come, even if you’re not a freshman or a captain, it’s open to everyone,” you can also bring friends who aren’t student athletes because, “everyone is welcome here.” 

Student athletes have a positive reaction to SAAC’s efforts. Jennifer Pace, a senior and one of the captains of the softball team agreed it’s a great way to network and make new friends. She went on to say, “In the end you’re supporting the Athletic Department and giving back, and I feel that’s really important especially as D3 players.” Jennifer went to SAAC’s first meeting two weeks ago and described it as a general meeting. Items discussed include the potluck, can donations, getting support for sports from other athletes and how to get non-student athletes involved.

Sophomore Devika Prashad is a new member who joined because it seemed like a great way to represent athlete’s and have them all become “one big team.” She added that “It’s a great way to get involved with the community and services provided at John Jay.”

SAAC’s second meeting on October 5th was even more successful than the first one. According to Corey Berg, Assistant Athletics Director for Academic Success, Compliance, and Eligibility, attendance at the second meeting was doubled from the first meeting. Corey, along with her coworkers Gabby and Tony, as well as the Executive Board really want to help change the perception of SAAC. She also said that not only does the club strengthen the relationship between student athletes but it “strengthens our bond with the College and also gets others at John Jay more interested in what we’re doing on/in the court, field, range, and pool.” The club has their meetings and events planned out for this semester and hopes to collaborate with other groups on campus, making for an exciting and successful year for SAAC.

The next few meetings are scheduled for October 19th, November 2 and November 19th in Haaren Hall in room 431 during community hour.