Friday, September 11, 2009

First National SAAC Experience

Commercialism, Kickball, and Aladdin. These diverse topics are what really stood out to me when I went to my first Division I National Student-Athlete Advisory Committee meeting, held in Denver, Colorado from July 16-19.

I did not know what to expect prior to the meeting, but it turned out to be one of the best experiences in my life. The trip got off to a great start when I made my connecting flight from Dallas to Denver. I usually miss my connecting flight, so this was a sign of a great weekend to come. Upon arriving in Denver, I got to my hotel quickly, unpacked, and took a quick nap. After a little while, I was woken up by my roommate for the weekend, Jarrett Newby, the Conference USA representative. Jarrett, a veteran of the National SAAC, gave me some quick tips on what to expect. He also told me about how interesting the conversations would be during the meetings and also how great everyone on the committee was. By this time it was dinner, and we then went out to the Cheesecake Factory where I met more members from the SAAC.

The next morning we had our first meeting. At the meeting, I had a chance to meet the remaining committee members. I really enjoyed the subject matter and all the conversations in which I took part. One of my favorite memories from the trip occurred when I introduced myself at the joint SAAC meeting. In addition to a standard introduction—saying what conference you were representing—we then had sing two lines from your favorite song. Unfazed, I decided to go first. Much to the surprise of everyone, I sang A Whole New World from Aladdin. After I finished, I received a rousing ovation. This was something I was very proud of considering it is not often that I sing in front of a large group.

After displaying my amazing singing skills, we went to the Jackie Robinson Sports Center. Here, all of the SAAC members worked with Special Olympic athletes on some softball drills. This experience was extremely rewarding and enriching. Following the softball drills, the Division I SAAC members played the Division II and III members in kickball. During the first game I would become a goat for striking out, which is sad considering I play soccer. I, however, did gain some kickball respect five minutes later when I made a great diving catch. Although we lost to the Division III team, we had a great time.

Additional meetings occurred over the next couple of days, and we discussed many important issues. My favorite conversation was when we discussed the topic of commercialism with Greg Shaheen, NCAA Senior Vice President of Basketball and Business Strategies. Overall I had an awesome experience in Denver, and I am looking forward to my future endeavors with the Division I SAAC.

Zach Solomon, The Patriot League

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