June 21, 2012
SAAC Welcome Back Pool Party Images
Rice Owls Visit West University Elementary School Images
Sammy Visits Poe Elementary Images
West University Elementary School Field Day Images
"Owls on Stage" Talent Show Images
Organizing "Owls on Stage," the first ever talent show for Rice student-athletes. Coordinating an annual food drive prior to the holidays. Reaching out and giving back to the community with appearances and involvement at area schools.
Those are just some of the events and activities which led Rice University's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) being recognized by National SAAC with the organization's Award of Excellence. The honor, which is now given annually, recognizes a campus SAAC which has organized special and unique community-service and outreach work as well as contributed other ways to sportsmanship, teamwork, leadership and growth.
"Our Student-Athlete Advisory Committee works hard throughout the year to develop initiatives which not only benefit scholar-athletes, but also students throughout campus and a variety of groups in the community," said Rick Greenspan, Rice University's Director of Athletics. "I am very proud of SAAC's commitment and dedication. The recognition received from SAAC's national leadership is well deserved."
The year began with SAAC reorganizing the athletic department's welcome reception for student-athletes from a barbeque to a pool party utilizing the campus' new recreation center. But SAAC's efforts went far beyond organizing a welcome back event.
"At the beginning of the year, we went over our mission statement as a group," said Andie Obermeyer, president of Rice SAAC and a rising senior on the Rice soccer team. "One of our main goals was to bridge the gap between student-athletes and the general student population. I think in everything we planned and executed, that was always in mind. I think it is a large part of why we are able to accept this award.
In addition to bridging the gap between student-athletes and the general student population at Rice, Obermeyer said SAAC's other primary goal was for the organization to become a voice for all student-athletes at Rice.
Over the past year, the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee at Rice was able to initiate several changes on campus to benefit both student and student-athletes alike. SAAC was involved in extending the servery hours for Rice University's residential dining facilities allowing greater access by all of the Rice student body.
"Owls on Stage" had been in planning for over a year and the inaugural event showcased student-athletes with a variety of talents in front of an audience of student-athletes and the general Rice student population alike.
Andrew Murphy, a rising junior on the Rice baseball team and one of Rice SAAC's two vice presidents, said just being able to communicate with teammates and see what they wanted out of SAAC was important.
"We worked to find out what they really cared about," he said. "Does a baseball player care about the same things a soccer player does? Just trying to find out if the event is going to benefit everyone; are people going to show up to these events? We tried to talk to teammates and determine what they wanted to do while keeping it in accordance with what the administration wants to achieve."
According to the group's advisor and Rice athletics' compliance coordinator Bryan Blair, one thing which sparked the success of SAAC this past year was the early success the group had in developing initiatives.
"I think seeing success in several different areas kind of snowballed - If we can do that, we can do this now," Blair said. "I hope that carries over to next year and future years. We are interested in being the voice of student-athletes and making change at Rice University. We know we have a voice and have some power. We hope to use that power for positive change."
Halsey Fowler, a SAAC vice president and rising senior on the Owls' cross country and track and field teams, said she did not realize how much support the group had on campus.
"Andie and I were on SAAC two years ago, and honestly I didn't realize people thought our goals were as important as we did," she said. "This year was awesome. We had a lot of great support from the student association as well as the administration on campus. It makes me look forward to next year and how with the support of all these great people we can push harder toward the larger goals we have in mind."
Obermeyer said that the past year was a great stepping stone but the group still had a lot of work to do and goals for the future.
"You can't change culture in a year and I think that was something we are trying to do," Obermeyer said. "So we definitely have some goals to extend our progress from 2011-12. It will largely fall on the entire SAAC and getting involved not only in their college governments but in student organizations across campus. They need to become more active and visible across campus. I think that should be an on-going goal every year."
About the NCAA Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee
The mission of the NCAA Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee is to enhance the total student-athlete experience by promoting opportunity, protecting student-athlete well being and fostering a positive student-athlete image. The hope of National SAAC is the award not only showcases the many positive accomplishments of SAACs all over the country, but also spread awareness of the National SAAC and its position in the NCAA governance structure.