SAAC athletes make impact around campus

Mackenzie Pflum, Reporter

From football to eSports, student athletes from every sports program on campus are members of SAAC. They meet weekly to discuss events and activities. (PHOTO CREDIT: STUDENT ATHLETE ADVISORY COMMITTEE)

Ashland University and the NCAA are dedicated to the well-being and involvement of the student athletes on campus. Getting athletes active in the community and giving them a platform and voice to be heard is the foundation behind the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC).

The mission, identified on the NCAA website, is “to enhance the total student-athlete experience by promoting opportunity, protecting student-athlete welfare and fostering a positive student-athlete image.”

SAAC is made up of student athletes that provide first hand experience on student-athlete life and are able to voice their opinion on the rules, regulations and policies that affect student-athletes’ lives on campus.

The operations of the group are overseen by an executive committee with positions ranging from president to head of community service. At Ashland University, the president position is held by senior Jessica Zaper.

Zaper was approached by former SAAC president, Jay Salone, after her first year with the committee. He saw her passion and commitment for the program and asked if she would be willing to take over as president for the next year.

When Zaper took the position, she created an executive board.

“I wanted to have more people with me and to support me as we grow as an organization,” Zaper said. “They help oversee and plan bigger events like the Ashbees and really make sure our fundraising goals are being met.”

This year, Ashland SAAC members used homecoming as a big part of their fundraising opportunities for Make-A-Wish. They did a car smash on campus and sold gift baskets at the game that were donated by local businesses.

Trent Maddox, the vice president of SAAC, is excited to continue the fundraising opportunities at winter sporting events.

“So far we’ve raised $8,000 just this semester for Make-A-Wish,” Maddox said. “I think we’re going to try and plan some raffle tickets or half court shots at basketball games as other ways to help continue to raise money.”

Game attendees can also look for SAAC volunteers walking through the stands with Make-A-Wish buckets who will be accepting donations.

Outside of raising money for Make-A-Wish, SAAC students have been volunteering their time at the local Crestview Elementary School by interacting and reading to the kids.

Recently, the committee had the opportunity to vote on NCAA legislation. Maddox, who is a quarterback on the football team, was thrilled.

“The NCAA has these legislation periods, which just means they are changing a lot of rules and bylaws in the NCAA constitution, which a lot of people don’t even know exist,” Maddox said. “We just actually voted on legislation that talks directly about football rule changes. So we get to vote on that and have our voices heard.”

Being a part of SAAC is open to any student-athlete that wants to join.

“A big focus for us is leadership and character development,” Zaper said. “It’s about helping every student athlete kinda understand who they are outside of their sports, who they can be after college, and how they can use their sport as a tool to help them grow.”

Anyone who wants to get involved in SAAC or donate to the SAAC Make-A-Wish foundation fundraising can contact SAAC president Jessica Zaper at [email protected]