Written by Amber Amortegui '20, Darvence Chery '18, and Laurent Ruttkowski '20.
Beneath the wooden floors of the Lahue Gymnasium, there reads a poster across from the athletic training room. In bright red stencil letters reads the acronym, "SAAC." Most people don't know the meaning behind these red letters, but their impact resonates throughout the walls of ENC's most historic athletic facility.
The Student Athletic Advisory Committee is crucial to not only ENC's Athletic Department but to the many athletes that SAAC serves.
SAAC representation at ENC dates to back to the early 2000s, but The Committee was created in 1989 at an NCAA convention and "was formed primarily to review and offer student-athlete input on NCAA activities and proposed legislation that affected student-athlete welfare," according to NCAA.org.
An elected SAAC president for each university has the privilege of attending NCAA Conventions like ENC's own SAAC President Viviana Coix. Coix, a softball player from Warrenville, Illinois, had a chance to travel to Nashville, Tennessee to represent ENC at a recent NCAA Convention.
At the convention, for her, "It was a great opportunity to finally see that student-athletes are a part of something much larger than ourselves." Coix continued, "We, together, are making a difference not only in our lives but in the lives of those before us and those who are still to come."
Coix is in her first year holding the position as SAAC President. She served as secretary last semester and was asked by Toni Kabilian, a member of the National Trainer's Association for SAAC if she would consider taking on the role of president since Kabilian knew Coix's interests and aspirations.
"SAAC is a student-led group, so it is important to have student-athletes that want to be involved," Kabilian said regarding how she monitors the SAAC representatives. "Viv served on the board last year as secretary and was very engaged in all of our events."
As President, Coix's responsibilities include organizing SAAC meetings, delegating which athletes participate in promotional events, and, communicating with student-athletes about what can be done to enhance their experience. The position is very demanding but Coix enjoys the servant leadership she can provide to both the ENC and local community
"Giving back to our community is important because it not only helps those around us, but it helps us become more involved and aware of what lies outside our campus. It gives us the chance to be a part of making our community better and coming together as a whole."
This past October Coix along with fellow SAAC executives Heidi Gomez, Emily Gomez, and ENC baseball player Josue Basilis, served at a Special Olympics event at the Pingree School in Hamilton, Massachusetts.
The Special Olympics is always an event that SAAC has highlighted on their calendar, especially for Emily Gomez. Gomez is a liberal arts major who initially wanted to pursue a career in special education, but her experience working with SAAC and the Special Olympics has motivated her to work in occupational therapy.
"My cousin has Down syndrome...so I was always involved in the Special Olympics coaching [all of his] teams," Gomez recalled. "I think it's important to reach out to the community and help out, especially children since they look up to us."
Another way SAAC wants to get more involved in the community is encouraging interaction between student-athletes and the rest of the student body. The SAAC Secretary, Shelby Holmes, has served on SAAC the past two years, and she's noticed a divide between student-athletes and students.
"Sometimes it seems as if the athletes only hang out with the athletes, but we want to create a two-way relationship where we support non-athletes, and they support us."
Holmes, being the captain of the women's basketball team, knows how important it is for athletes to see their hard work paid off with fans in attendance. Collectively, the SAAC Executive Board is trying to pass legislation that would shift the times of the women's basketball games. This time change will prevent the team from playing during dinner which allows the entire ENC community to have the chance to attend the games.
There are also plans in place to promote community among athletes of different teams with an end-of-the-year cookout that celebrates athletes, coaches, and faculty.
Much like SGA, SAAC votes on legislation to be considered at the Commonwealth Coast Conference SAAC meetings at the end of the year. The SAAC Executive board, along with athletic team representatives meet once a month to discuss issues concerning ENC athletics like increasing attendance at women's games and making the basketball season longer to ensure more time for rest and recovery.
Recently, ENC SAAC, along with other schools in the CCC, agreed on passing legislation to make both men's and women's basketball seasons longer. The new initiative has been taken into consideration by both ENC and the CCC.
SAAC hopes to celebrate the student-athletes and administrators that have worked diligently to ensure the 60th season of ENC Athletics. After the dedication SAAC has shown to the community, if anyone deserves a celebration, it is the hard-working student-athletes that provide a voice to their peers.