By Lance Jordan, Sports Editor
The University of Missouri–St. Louis has many organizations and committees, but only one of these committees is dedicated to the best interest of UMSL’s men and women Tritons.
The Student Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC) was created by and for the athletes at UMSL and has been around for a long time.
“We’re actually used for a lot of different administrative things like the rules and any legislation amongst athletics will go through us,” Sara Kern said, senior, business marketing.
Kern, who has been a part of SAAC for her entire four years at UMSL, adds that the organization is a liaison between students, the athletic board, and the directors at UMSL and makes sure athletes are getting involved with other students on campus and the community around the school.
The organization does this by doing community service and working with the Make-A-Wish foundation.
“We worked with a few Make-A-Wish families this fall. We actually had a Make-A-Wish day that was super successful. We raised a lot of money. Last year it was $800, and this year we fundraised almost $1,500,” she said.
SAAC was designed to have two members per team, with an upperclassman and a lower classman. In total, UMSL has 13 athletic teams meaning the organization roughly includes up to 26 members.
“We meet every three weeks so we really have somewhere in the twenties. Some sports have one person, some have three. It’s not super strict, but it’s hard to get all of us to meet together. We’re all in different seasons, and schedules are hectic,” Kern said. “At a meeting, I say we get around 15 to 20 people.”
Kern is one of four officers who are all in their last years as leaders of the committee, all four will graduate this semester. They include the president, Evan Garrad, senior, biochemistry, and co-vice presidents Joe Rund, senior, biology, and Kevin Smith, senior, criminal justice. But for Kern, juggling the responsibilities of secretary of the committee, softball, and class hasn’t tired the student athlete out one bit.
“I’ve kind of gotten used to being a crazy person running around doing too many things,” Kern said.
In SAAC you’re supposed to be a leader among your team, you are responsible for getting the word out and getting your team involved around campus, so someone quiet and reserved may not be the best fit. Kern believes her coach chose her for the position because she was the complete opposite of that. In her freshman year, Kern’s softball coach chose her to represent the team at SAAC, as its senior member had left the committee after graduating.
“We needed a new person, so my coach basically just said, ‘Find out what SAAC is—you are our new member,’” Kern recalls.
Kern adds, “Your coach can decide or your current members can just pick. It’s me and a sophomore currently that’s in SAAC. So I just choose a freshman whose going to start coming to meetings now at the very end of this year so she can kind of be ready for being an SAAC member next year.”
Apart from the legislation and community service project, SAAC has also been involved in increasing turnout for UMSL’s athletic games on campus.
“I think we would all love for regular student involvement to be a lot higher than it is. But I feel like Mark Twain is its own part of campus and that not many people go over there, especially now that we have the REC. The softball field I’m sure 10 percent of the population at school can tell you where it is, and they’re probably all art majors because it’s by the art building—half their windows have been broken by softballs. It’s all spread out, and there’s no real sense of location. I think that’s an issue,” Kern said. “We’ve been trying to work on putting posters up in the student center about attending our sporting events. We have an app called Triton HQ that encourages students to come and get points. You get points on the app and once you get enough points you can get a free soda, a free meal, or a free sweatshirt.”
As her time with the committee and with UMSL comes to an end, Kern definitely feels she has gained the knowledge and experience of a leader not only in the organization but with her team as well.
“You’re kind of forced to step up, be a leader, spread the word, and let people know you’re out here for a cause,” Kern said. “You’ve got to be kind of pushy, maybe a little like a salesman.”