SAAC works to improve lives of student athletes, surrounding community

A group of athletes is working to make changes – off the court and playing field.

PNW’s Student Athlete Advisory Committee, comprised of athletes from all Division II sports, advocates for athletes and creates opportunities to get involved in non-athletic activities.

“We hope to improve student-athletes’ experiences at PNW by advocating for them and giving them opportunities to grow, not only as athletes but also people,” said Ashley Bravo, SAAC president and an infielder on the Pride softball team.

“SAAC is important because we not only impact our student-athletes, but also our community,” she said. “We look for different ways to volunteer by donating towards Make-A-Wish, the food bank, local schools and have even made our own events, such as Trunk-or-Treat and Egg Hunt.

“Through these opportunities, our student-athletes are able to make connections and learn how to work with others,” said Bravo. 

As part of their activities, the SAAC has donated $5,000 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation yearly since they got involved with the charity in 2016 .

Closer to home, SAAC is focused on campus issues.

“Something that we are really focusing on for PNW Athletes is how our student-athletes are feeling physically and mentally,” said Bravo. “We are currently working closely with the counseling center and creating a Mental Health Committee to break the stigma that seeking help is a sign of weakness.”

The group is also planning campus activities, including a cornhole and dodgeball tournament, Homerun Derby, Handprints 4 Hope, which brings awareness to sexual harassment, food fundraisers, and an Easter Egg Hunt.

More details about the group and events will be available on their Instagram, @PNW_SAAC, and Facebook, @PNW SAAC, pages. 

Beyond the campus, the SAAC helps to shape NCAA regulations and policies for universities across the nation.

“Every year, SAAC goes over different legislations that the NCAA is considering to change within their division,” said Bravo. “As a group, we vote whether we would like the legislation to go forward. The NCAA then overviews all of the votes from different universities and colleges to see if they should move forward or not.” 

Along with voting on proposals at the NCAA Convention, The NCAA allows two members of the Division II SAAC vote in the Division II Management Council, the division’s main policymaking body. 

SAAC at PNW has been involved with the national organization since 2016, when the university switched from the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) to the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II (NCAA DII).

Two student-athletes per team are chosen by their coaches and teammates to represent the team at university SAAC meetings. 

“Teams choose individuals that are able to represent PNW Athletics within a positive light and are passionate about changing PNW for the better,” said Bravo.