Student-athletes should be thrilled to have Dajon Thomas ’18 as the new president of the Student Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC). A member of the lacrosse team, Thomas plans to promote student-athletes on campus, recognizing their achievements and working to make the balance between athletics and school easier. In the past few years, the SAAC has diminished in popularity and impact. Many students have never even heard of this organization, and the group had fallen short of its ultimate goal: to promote student-athletes. However, Thomas is changing that.
“My initiative is to gain club recognition and to acknowledge the achievements of student-athletes,” Thomas said. “Other SAAC members and I are passionate about that and felt like that’s something we needed to do.”
The SAAC plans to give athletes public exposure weekly. “We want to create a social media page so that we can start a Student-Athlete of the Week that celebrates players ‘achievements on and off the field'”, Thomas said. “It’s good to get players’ names out there for students, parents and alumni to see. I think both parents and students would like to see these athletes gain the recognition that they deserve.”
In addition, the SAAC has several ideas in mind to bring the campus together while helping the community. “We want to host monthly competitions, which would include kickball and basketball, that would raise money for local charities or organizations like the battered women’s shelter nearby,” Thomas said.
The committee will also be running an ALS Polar Plunge, Special Olympics, and a Penny War as they have done so in the past. Owen Doster ’20, Secretary of the SAAC, notes that the Special Olympics at Wabash have been extremely successful these past few years.
“We went to a NCAC meeting recently, and the conference recognized us for having some of the best Special Olympics in the conference, if not, in this part of the nation,” Doster said. “We always get large turnouts. Last year, they had 50 to 100 kids come, which is a huge amount of kids for this portion of the state.”
Although the SAAC is an athlete-only organization, these events are open to all students. “The campus also doesn’t know that each sport is volunteering guys constantly throughout the year to run these events,” Thomas said, restating that athletes do not only do outstanding work on the field, but off the field as well. Organizing charity events is a major part of what the SAAC does, but they also vote on several issues that affect athletes. Members of the SAAC attend NCAA conferences, where representatives from Wabash and other schools discuss an issue and vote on it.
Afterwards, members of the SAAC relay the new information to the rest of the club and vote on that same issue again. Such votes determine new changes in legislation that affects college athletes. The SAAC is currently working towards giving athletes extra leeway in practice times so that they can have more time to do homework. They are also working towards removing a rule which prohibits football players from using a football when walking through a play during the preseason. Doster believes that the organization is not only having a bigger effect on Wabash, but on other colleges across the country.
“We’re getting a bigger say on the NCAC level than last year because we’re working on more legislation than we did before,” Doster said. “We have an impact on the national level, and we’re assisting the student-athletes as much as we can. We’re listening to what the athletes are saying so that we can put it to good use and make changes as we see fit.” Since the committee votes on several issues that directly affect athletes on campus, the athlete-only committee is looking to recruit new members. “We’re looking to get a lot of input,” Thomas said. “It’s been the same guys for a while, which is why we’re looking for sophomores and freshmen to join the SAAC.”
Nevertheless, the organization is quickly growing in numbers and strength. “We’ve had more guys at the meetings.CITE At the last meeting we had, nearly every member was there, so the turnout has definitely improved.” The SAAC is refusing to be a dormant organization; this committee has a bright future of development and change ahead of them.