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For DIII chair, SAAC experience will be “my favorite memory” of college

Chelsea Shoemaker, a senior soccer student-athlete at Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, N.Y., joined the Tigers’ Student-Athlete Advisory Committee in 2009. The international business major was named the NCAA Division III SAAC chair in Jan. 2014.

Did working with SAAC help you see potential in yourself that you didn’t see before you got involved?

Chelsea Shoemaker: Yes it did. I always wanted to get involved and learn how to become a better leader on campus. SAAC provided me a tremendous opportunity to work closely with a diverse group of student leaders on campus (College Activities Board, Greek Life and Global Union) as well as our senior administrators. Starting at the campus level, to the regional level and onto the national level, SAAC taught me to see the possibilities starting with a local organization and working my way up to the national level. 

Being in the position that you're in, have you been able to see how the student athlete’s voice is heard through SAAC?

CS: I have seen first-hand how the student-athletes’ voice is heard from the local committees on up and through the national legislative process. Being able to witness at Convention how seriously members of the Management Council, Presidents Council, as well as the overall Association, take what SAAC has to say is empowering. I applaud DIII as a whole for giving the voice to its student- athletes regarding legislation and student-athlete well-being and would encourage young SAAC members to speak up, because it does not go unnoticed. 

When you look back on your college career how do you think you will look at the SAAC experience juxtaposed with your athletic experience?

CS: Being a college athlete alone is an incredible experience; every former student-athlete will say that. Aside from those great memories of my time as a student-athlete at RIT, I feel that I fell into this whole other dimension of college athletics, seeing it from an administrative side as an advocate and leader among my peers. The events I have been fortunate to be a part of, the community service initiatives such as Special Olympics that have touched me in ways I can't describe, the places I have been able to travel representing my school — conferences and the NCAA — as well as, most importantly, the special people it has brought into the forefront of my life. The bonds I have formed with fellow SAAC members, my athletic administrators, and people at the NCAA office will be lifelong — that I know for sure.

When I rolled onto the National SAAC, I was greeted by senior members of the committee telling me that my life was about to change and I was about to embark on a special journey surrounded by some of the most incredible individuals. They could not have been more spot on. Recently, on our introduction conference call, I had the honor of greeting our newly appointed national members. Without hesitation, I informed them of the special journey ahead, I now could speak from experience.

When my SAAC journey ends next year, and for many years to come, I know my refection will be simple:  Being a member of SAAC at RIT, the Liberty League and as a member of the DIII National SAAC enriched my overall college experience in every way, truly being my favorite memory of my college years. Every day I am grateful for the opportunities SAAC has provided me. 

What would you tell incoming student-athletes that may not know much about SAAC? How would you encourage them to get involved?

CS: For any incoming student- athletes who are looking for opportunities to become better leaders off the playing field, I would highly urge you to get involved with SAAC. If you are passionate about representing the student-athlete voice, talk to your coach or team leaders and volunteer to be your team’s SAAC rep. If there are reps already in place, volunteer to sit in on meetings and help at events alongside your reps. There can never be too many dedicated and committed student-athletes to SAAC. The more voices joining together can only help spread the message of SAAC and the popularity of its events and service initiatives!