In years past, coaches designated two players from each team to serve on the Student-Athlete Advisory Council, and that was the end of it. Today, SAAC has captured the interest of student-athletes, who are anxious to join one of the most successful and fastest-growing organizations on campus.
Juniors Jarett Wasson and Abbey McKee – leaders on the football field and softball diamond – have stepped up to lead of SAAC this year, overseeing a membership approaching 60.
“I saw a lot of potential my sophomore year,” Abbey said. “So Jarett and I put our names out there this year, hoping we could further the mission of SAAC. We’ve continued to grow and we’re happy to be leaders for student-athletes on campus.” Jarret added, “It’s an honor to lead a group of people that tries to incorporate everyone’s ideas, set goals and show it off to the campus.”
Now that SACC is soaring, current advisor Branden Jakubcin, defensive coordinator for the Student Prince football team, said the group’s aim is to promote itself on campus and in the community.
“I like to tell them, ‘The product you put on the field is representative of yourself,’” he said. “It’s the same with SAAC. I’m really happy with where we’re at and the direction we’re going.”
SAAC members frequently show up at ‘Berg athletic events. To support their programs, they conduct 50-50 raffles at halftimes of most home football and basketball games. Students get excited to see them; it means they might get lucky enough to grab a T-shirt or koozie or other spirit items tossed into the stands.
This fall, SAAC launched Donut Day on campus where members stopped by random offices with donuts for faculty and staff. They also host Fruit Fridays in Saurwein and Seiberling. Both were a huge hit.
There’s a lot of planning to be done, so SAAC typically meets bi-weekly. “Our goal is to do two events a month so that we keep ourselves active on campus,” Jarret explained.
SAAC members are committed to volunteer service in the community. There is an ongoing association with helping out at area Special Olympics competitions around the state. In Tiffin, ‘Berg student-athletes regularly volunteer at the YMCA, an assisted living facility and an elementary school. Members also are in the planning stages of organizing a Walk for a Cause event that would benefit Wounded Warriors.
“We can still do more,” said Branden, who tries to stay in the background and allow the student-athletes to be the face of the group. “They really are doing a great job and have taken ahold of all of the tasks.”
One of SAAC’s most visible and largest events is the Siggy Awards. ”They’ve done a good job with it, making it fun for everyone,” Branden said. The entertaining awards program recognizes top male and female student-athletes and scholar-athletes in a number of categories such as best performance, breakthrough performance, newcomer and team. Individual honors are given for Coach of the Year, Athletic Trainer of the Year and Special Recognition. The third annual Siggys are planned for the spring semester.
SAAC organizations also have a more official function. Across the country, they serve as the voice for student-athletes at the conference and NCAA level, offering input on the rules, regulations and policies that affect student-athletes. As SAAC leadership, Abbey and Jarret attend conferences with OAC member schools and bring their opinions back to campus in advance of NCAA national meetings.
SAAC’s presence and growth seem to have shifted the attitude on campus, allowing for greater collaboration between athletes and non-athletes, Abbey said. And, SAAC members have gotten to know ‘Berg administrators in a different light. President Rob Huntington, Provost Beth Schwartz, Athletic Director Matt Palm and others have attended meetings to explain more about their jobs.
All in all, leading SAAC has been a rewarding experience for both Jarret and Abbey. “I think for me, the best part is seeing the faces of the members light up when we come up with an idea,” she said. “I like meeting people who come to our events. I’m really excited about our involvement on campus.”