Kaleigh Anderson (@KaleighAnd1)
NASHVILLE, Tennessee. - Each January numerous athletic administrators gather at the NCAA Convention to attend panels, share thoughts, vote on new legistlation, and gather initiatives that they can bring back to their respective institutions. Sophomore student athlete Catharine Wrang (Middletown, Conn.) was able to attend this years convention as part of the NCAA's Diversity and Inclusion initiative which as stated on NCAA.org, "seeks to establish and maintain an inclusive culture that fosters equitable participation for student-athletes and career opportunities for coaches and administrators from diverse backgrounds." Wrang has compiled a student blog based on her experience at this year's convention in hopes of spreading the word on how we can all get more involved in SAAC (Student Athlete Advisory Committee) and athletic administration as a whole.
Thursday, January 19th, 2017. - I arrived in Nashville at 12:30pm and checked into our hotel at around 1pm. Right after I checked in, I went to the Special Olympics. Elms College does Special Olympics every year ran by our SAAC, so it was really cool to be a part of it at the convention. When you see those smiling faces, it makes the experience that much more rewarding. Next I went to the Business Session on Athlete Well Being and Mental Health. The topic that really stuck out to me at this session was 'Moving On' after being a student athlete. It made me really think about how I wanted to spend the rest of my years being a student athlete and reflect on my past years. Sports have been a huge part of my life since I was little, and I dread the day I will have to hang my cleats up. The next session I went to was where Joan Cronan received the Pat Summitt Award. I learned that Joan was someone who dedicated her time to her student athletes and made a difference in all of their lives. I got the chills as she was speaking to us about her career, as well as her good friend, Pat Summitt's. I feel like I can accomplish anything after listening to her speak and you could tell that they are and were both well liked and respected people. Dr. Mark Emmert, the NCAA President spoke to us as well, along with division presidents and answered questions from the National SAAC members. The last thing we attended was the Division III Student Forum where we had a reception and then a social afterwards. The Improv at the social was very entertaining and fun, because they got the student athletes involved and gave us another chance to meet new people.
Friday, January 20th, 2017. - On our last full day in Nashville, we began the day early at 8am at the NCAA Division III Issues Forum. Issues that Division III athletic directors voted on later in the day were discussed at this. Student athletes health was also discussed at this, such as concussions, mental health screening, cardiac health, and sexual violence. Concussions were a big topic, and something that seems to happen repeatedly because it is not taken care of properly. After lunch, we went to a luncheon where Grant Hill received the Gerald Ford Award. It was really interesting to hear about Grant Hill's experience as a student athlete, but also about his life before basketball became a huge part of his life and his life now. He said he always went to go watch Georgetown play, and that was his dream school. As he was going through the recruiting process, a coach came along who he connected with right away, and that is how he ended up at Duke. Grant Hill seemed like a really cool guy, and a role model to all student athletes. At 1pm, we went to our own NECC Conference meeting. Here they discussed the nine proposals that all three divisions vote on. It was very interesting to see and hear everyone's own opinions and watch some disagreements happen. I never realized how much time and thought goes into these proposals for us student athletes. It really opened up my eyes. We finally had some free time, so I went into downtown Nashville with a few other student athletes I met. We walked around town and ended up going to the Hard Rock Cafe for dinner. It was fun to see the city and spend time with the other student athletes!
Saturday, January 21st, 2017. - It was our last morning in Nashville. We began the day early again at 8am, at the NCAA Division III Business Session where all could attend, but only selected Division III members could vote or speak on the floor. During this time, I had the chance to listen to all voices from other Division III Conferences, and not just our own NECC Conference about the nine proposals. I also had the opportunity to ask my Athletic Director questions about why she was voting the way she was and have an understanding on each proposal. It was really amazing to see everyone's points of view, and sometimes that point of view could change the opinion on our own vote. Most proposals were adopted by the time this session was over. If student athletes at my school ask why one was or was not adopted, I can explain to them the reason of thought behind it and then our Athletic Director's point of view on it. Finally, it was time to head back to the airport and fly back home to bring back what I learned. I am so grateful and honored to have been able to represent Elms College, Student Athletes, and Division III at the NCAA Convention. It was a great experience, I learned a lot, and I met some amazing people. My love for Division III Sports grew exceptionally, and I am so proud to be a D3 Student Athlete! Go Blazers!