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SAAC experience helped Division II chair see his potential

Bradley Maldonado, a senior cross country student-athlete at Lincoln Memorial University in Spring Hill, Tenn., joined the Railsplitters’ Student-Athlete Advisory Committee as a freshman and was named chair of the Division II national SAAC as a junior. Maldonado took a break from SAAC’s fall meetings to discuss his experiences on the committee.

How did you get involved with SAAC?

Bradley Maldonado: I have done clubs and organizations in high school so I knew that I wanted to do it in college. It was just one group I found a fondness for because they are driven, they are motivated, they are willing to make some change and they are not going to be satisfied with the status quo. Because in student athletes there is a different kind of motivation that we possess, that most student athletes possess. 

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

BM: Absolutely. It brings out a confidence in you.  It shows you that there's so much more in everything than you think there is. It just helps you understand the true logistics that goes into everything that helps us to be able to practice or go out in the field. It brings out a part of you that I'm sure everybody has but, you know, only some have because of the opportunities that are brought before them. 

What are some topics the committee is discussing that will benefit other student athletes who may not be aware of SAAC’s efforts on their behalf?

BM: Legislation is always a topic. We are always concerned about the well-being of the student athletes within our division as well as the other divisions. Just pushing for the legislation that's going to keep us healthy, keep us training right and keep us from getting injured, keeping our mental health and well being going on and not stressing us out or allowing things to start breaking us down.  Another thing is our alliance with the Make A Wish Foundation.  That gives us this huge opportunity to give a lot of student athletes all across the country to do service opportunities and grow and learn from others. 

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

BM: You can see how much it moves the membership when the Student Athlete Advisory Committee members get up and speak on stage the way it is spoken. You see the way it moves people.  The administrators really want to know, because there's not that many student athletes when we go to convention. It’s just the SAAC and maybe a few groups, and they are always asking us, ‘Hey what do you think about this?’ and, ‘What do you think about this?’ 

As you look to move on to medical school, what would you tell incoming student-athletes that may be like you were, that don’t know about SAAC and what it could do for you? How would you encourage them to get involved?

BM: Always ask questions, is one of the things that over my entire life I have encouraged other people to do.  It’s gotten me in trouble, but for the most part it’s definitely benefited my life.  Ask questions and be motivated, take life in your own hands and don’t wait.  I mean don’t rush things, but don’t wait. Talk to people and get to know everyone around you.  Get to know what’s going on around you.  Just be involved. That’s the biggest thing, is just be involved. 

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

BM: You know it's something that I'll never forget.  SAAC has given me so much and it's really the highest standard that I can possibly hold an organization. It adds just a richness that you can't understand unless you are in it.