Newman University, like many universities, has a Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) to represent the school and its student-athletes — but they want to make sure everyone on campus plays a part, not just the athletes. That's why this year, SAAC at Newman is setting a goal to do more fundraisers.
Newman is a member of the NCAA Division II, which partnered with the Make-A-Wish Foundation in 2003 to raise funds for the organization and encourages all of its member schools to help in their mission. This makes the fundraisers a big part of the year for SAAC.
"There has to be a lot more fundraising this year. We only did one and then called it good," said SAAC Co-President Quincy Plank. "I want to be more active, too - get more people involved on campus."
This year, SAAC has two students acting as co-presidents. Sophomores Quincy Plank and Kyle Mazza were sitting next to each other at the meeting in which the following year's president was to be nominated. When there didn't seem to be any interest, the two of them decided, why not make it a team effort? "He’s a winter sport and I’m a fall sport so that helps us stay balanced," said Plank.
Sharing the responsibility will also give them a little more time for other activities and their studies, they said.
"Raising money for Make-A-Wish is our first and foremost goal," said Plank. The co-presidents added that SAAC will also raise money to fund the Jetspy's Awards, a popular and highly attended annual recognition event held at the end of the season for all Newman student-athletes. Mazza added, "Whoever raises the most money in the Heartland Conference gets to grant a wish to a kid." Both Plank and Mazza said they'd love to exceed the $1,000 goal that the conference has set and be able to grant a wish to someone in the program.
The committee's first meeting of the year focused on electing a vice president, secretary and treasurer. The group also assigned sub-committee members for fundraising, volunteering and community involvement, event planning, and social media.
SAAC provides students with an opportunity to be a part of something important that will also be looked at favorably by future employers. "We focus on the mission, which is creating a well-rounded student-athlete," said Mazza. "There’s leadership stuff that goes into that. Specifically, we’re selected because we’re student-athletes, but, that’s not a limitation of the organization."
Some of the fundraisers on the table included a date auction, smashing a junkyard car, and a bowling tournament. Those and other ideas will be discussed among committee members before finalizing the events they will actually hold. One event they do plan to bring back is the Halloween Run in October. The family-friendly event will include a walk/run and also stops for kids to Trick-or-Treat along the way.
This year's elected SAAC leadership team:
- Co-Presidents – Kyle Mazza (basketball) and Quincy Plank (soccer)
- Vice President – Sarah Peterson (volleyball)
- Secretary – Kelly Machacek (bowling)
- Treasurer – Marilyn Nguyen (spirit team)