Thursday, May 28, 2009

2009 National Student-Athlete Development Conference

The 2009 National Student-Athlete Development Conference convened in Orlando, Florida at the Coronado Springs Resort in Walt Disney World from May 24-27. Despite some uncharacteristic weather in Orlando, close to 600 of the nation’s top student-athlete leaders gathered without letting the rain damper their spirits. These leaders came together to shed light on numerous important issues facing student-athletes today. The conference was also an opportunity for student-athletes to enhance their leadership skills and network with administrators as well as with one another through a variety of activities. The student-athletes in attendance started a journey of self discovery that will continue well beyond the days, weeks, months and years after this conference.

I was joined at the conference by 11 of my fellow National Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) members from all divisions (I, II, and III). The responsibilities of being among the 12 National SAAC members were numerous; including helping the NCAA staff set up the different rooms of the conference, organizing different items necessary for the activities, being airport ambassadors for the arriving student-athletes at the conference, and more. I credit the NCAA staff on doing a phenomenal job of preparing for and running the conference. Without their tireless efforts and hard work, events such as these are nothing more than an idea without feasibility.

Perhaps most notably, however, each divisional National SAAC was charged with the task of organizing a 1 hour 45 minute SAAC session (one for each division). This session was the highlight of our time spent at the development conference. Having the chance to meet and interact with student-athletes from all around the county on a level such as this is certainly a rarity for us as a National SAAC. Numerous conference calls and months of practice went into preparing the material for this session, along with some incredible assistance from NCAA staff members Beth DeBauche and Kelly Groddy. Because the 600 student-athletes in attendance were selected for their exceptional leadership qualities and uniqueness, we wanted to be sure to provide knowledge that those in attendance could take back with them to their respective campuses and use to enhance their student-athlete experiences.

The National SAAC Education and Feedback session was a great dialogue, which was highly anticipated due to the credentials for which they were chosen. After the session, the National SAAC members felt that we thoroughly and effectively communicated the most important and pertinent information to the attendees including a background on what the National SAAC is and our role in the NCAA governance structure, why the student-athlete voice and opinion matters, an explanation of various issues affecting student-athletes, initiatives spearheaded by the National SAAC, and the opportunity for the student-athletes to directly voice their opinions and concerns to us and the NCAA membership. More importantly, I think we all walked away having learned as much as we taught. It is truly refreshing to have the opportunity to realign our goals and make sure that we are connecting with all 160,000 Division I student-athletes.

This was my first opportunity to attend one of these conferences (either regional or national) and I had heard that witnessing the student-athletes at these conferences is pretty spectacular. Now that I have had the pleasure of interacting with these student-athletes, it gives me confidence that the future leaders of tomorrow are well on their way to achieving great things and accomplishing great feats. Often times, as student-athletes, we are viewed from the narrow perspective of only our athletic feats. But, we all know that there are over 400,000 student-athletes and almost all will go pro in something other than sports. After attending this conference, there is no doubt that NCAA student-athletes are more than prepared for what is to come in our bright futures.

To those student-athletes who were in attendance at this conference, I want to say thank you for showing me what intercollegiate athletics is all about. You all came to this conference without an inkling as to what you were getting yourselves into, but left as a group who embraced challenges and seized the opportunity to acquire the skills and tools to go out and make a difference in the lives of others. That, in the end, is what the intended purpose of this conference was, and you certainly did not disappoint! And for that I thank and congratulate you.

Scott Krapf
Illinois State University Track and Field

Missouri Valley Conference

*If you were a participant at the 2009 National Student-Athlete Development Conference, we want to see pictures from your experience! Email your favorites to to see them on SAAC Speaks!

No comments:

Post a Comment