By Michelle Brutlag Hosick
The Student-Athlete Advisory Committee at Boston College transformed itself over the last five years, and its metamorphosis into an active, vibrant group helped to earn it the Division I National SAAC Award of Excellence for fall 2010.
Alison Quandt, a former Boston College student-athlete and now the school’s Life Skills program administrator, noted the vast difference between the group now and when she was a student-athlete.
“Night and day probably doesn’t cover it,” she said. “It’s so much bigger and more inclusive than what it was when I was a student-athlete.”
That size and inclusivity earned them the admiration of the national SAAC selection committee. Chair Nick Fulton said the breadth of the group’s community-service projects impressed the committee.
“The selection committee was amazed by the number and variety of initiatives,” Fulton said.
The Boston College SAAC has nearly a dozen projects ranging from fundraisers for earthquake victims in Haiti and visiting children in hospitals to an organized effort to support each other on a team and individual basis. The SAAC even created an immersion service trip to the Gulf region to help in the recovery from Hurricane Katrina.
Quandt said each of the projects was conceived by a SAAC member (or members), who then brought the idea to the full group. Each of the projects received the full support of the group. In fact, the service trip has more applicants than spots available. She encouraged other groups to let the student-athletes take the lead.
“It helps when they are the ones doing it; they are empowered. They care more,” she said. “It doesn’t mean as much when I’m telling them something to do. If a student-athlete comes back like one did last year from the trip to New Orleans and says this is the best experience they’ve had at BC and they’re a junior? That’s the best marketing we can have.”
Quandt also credits the student-athletes with making the SAAC become a viable group. She said several student-athlete leaders recognized that the SAAC could be a real positive in the community – and for the student-athletes who chose to participate. That’s what she’s proudest of: the student-athlete reaction to the good that they do in the community.
“Sometimes they go into it thinking it’s going to be a chore, but in the end, I think they get more out of it than whomever it is we’re helping on any given day,” Quandt said.
The Award of Excellence was created in 2009 to call attention to the good work student-athletes do away from competition and to raise the profile of the national SAAC among all student-athletes. The award is given twice a year. A selection committee chooses winners based on the following criteria: progress/growth, community service/outreach, sportsmanship initiatives, teamwork, originality, leadership and environmental initiatives.
The next submission period will occur in the spring. Life skills coordinators will receive an e-mail that details how to nominate a SAAC for the award, and the national group’s website and Twitter feed (@DivisionISAAC) also will be updated.