The following blog is written by Shannon Murphy ('14), Duquesne University Women’s Lacrosse, about her experience at the Annual A-10 SAAC in-person meeting in Indianapolis, IN during the NCAA National Convention.
Two weeks ago I was fortunate enough to go to Indianapolis where I met fellow athletes within the A-10 and learned an incredible amount. I had the most difficult time getting to Indy but all the headaches and many swipes of my credit card were totally and completely worth it. I went into this conference not knowing what to expect. I didn’t know anyone, I didn’t know what we were going to be doing, and I didn’t know how I would handle things.
|The A-10 SAAC pictured outside of the NCAA National Office|
with NCAA mascot JJ Jumper
After being extremely flustered from a long day of traveling, I made it to the Honors Celebration in time (this was a miracle). I had recently heard some things about the Honors Celebration, how awesome it was, how incredible it was and how you walk away from it inspired. While all these things were true, they did not begin to cover what I really took away from the Celebration. The current and former athletes that were honored that evening taught me so much. They proved to me that although I may say that I don’t have time to do anything else except go to school and play my sport, I really do. These athletes not only have devoted themselves to their sport and their academics, but helping the community in more ways then most can dream. I really took away from the Celebration with the notion that I should and most definitely could be doing more. The Honors Celebration also gave me a chance to get acquainted with my fellow A-10 members. It was a great way to kick off the weekend as we spent the night hearing inspirational stories and getting to know some of my new closest friends.
Saturday was one jam packed day. We were up bright and early from breakfast and then were in meetings for seven hours, SEVEN hours. But these seven hours flew by. The people that we spent all this time talking to, were truly amazing people. We began our day with a meeting with the A-10 commissioner Bernadette V. McGlade. Commissioner McGlade spoke to us about accountability and how by being on the SAAC (Student Athlete Advisory Committee) we really do have a voice, and people higher up in position with us really do care about what we say. She spoke to us how important it is to not be afraid to take chances.
After our meeting with commissioner McGlade, we took the short, very cold, walk out to the NCAA National Offices where we were blessed with the opportunity to meet with some pretty incredible people. First we met with Curtis Hollomon, Director of Leadership Development, who spoke to us about leadership and our core values. He focused on our core values and how they define the person we are. He spoke about how important our core values are and how they can help us when we are struggling with something or making a tough decision about something and how by going back to our cores will make things seem a little easier. Then he shifted focuses to leadership and said that “leadership is a 24/7 job and it's important to step back and get to know your teammates, their strengths and weaknesses, what they like, what they don’t like.” He informed us that once this has been done, working together will become a lot easier.
Next up we had a meeting with Dana Thomas, who works in the NCAA social media offices. She spoke to us about how communication across the years has changed. Where as before one would have to write a statement, send it out to new papers and wait for a response, today someone can tweet something and have a response in thirty seconds. She also talked to us about how we need to be careful about what we say and post. Everything we say and do can be seen and used by other people, and often taken out of its original context. Lastly she left us with some words of wisdom saying “use Facebook to engage and twitter to inform.” If anyone is interested in keeping up with NCAA news, like their pages on Facebook or follow them on twitter, @NCAADana, @InsidetheNCAA and @Division1SAAC.
After speaking with Dana, we were blessed with the opportunity to speak to Paula who spoke to us about how much it took to put on an NCAA championship. Her and her co-workers work as one team to put on 89 Championships a year across all 3 Divisions of NCAA Sports. It was eye opening to see how much effort went into planning for one championship game to occur.
Next up was a delicious lunch at the NCAA offices. Before I went on this trip, my dad told me how much people get fed while they are at these meetings. It seemed like every time we turned around there was another type of snack or delicious meal at our disposal. The food was incredible. We never went hungry. Our next speaker was Katie Willett who handles student affairs. She spoke to us about many scholarships that are available and how working with other groups of campus, such as the greek life, can really enhance our image and show that we are not the stereotypical athletes who only care about themselves and their sports.
And finally our day concluded at the NCAA offices with a meeting with Renee Gomila. Renee is the Associate Director of Enforcement for Secondary Infractions. She spoke to us about how she tries to fix things up when a team breaks an NCAA rule. The main point that we discussed was the amount of hours that are allowed for practice time and what to do if we suspect our coach is about to go over or is going over the allowed time. She stressed being able to talk to our coaches about it, and if not being able to go to our compliance director and not just ignoring it. There is a fine line between voluntary and required and it is okay to ask someone if you think something wrong is going on. She told us it is better to speak up if you have the slightest doubt, because you never know, you many be saving your institution from dealing with heavy fines.
Sunday was a short, but jammed packed day. Once again we were up bright and early. Our meetings with the NCAA concluded with a meeting with Jackie Campbell. She spoke to us about all the upcoming rule changes and what the NCAA had in mind to try and make things better for student athletes. It was great hearing from a senior person in the NCAA offices who is really looking out for student athletes as a whole and helping us in whatever way she can.
|The A-10 SAAC Competing in the CRONS pushup contest|
Our day concluded with some final messages from Jill and the rest of the team. Jill asked us to speak about what we were really going to take away from this weekend. At the time I couldn’t really think of anything to say. After having a couple days to reflect the one main thing I really took away from this conference was knowing that I can do more, not only athletically, but in the community and academically. I also met a number of incredible people, some great new friends and am so happy that I was able to attend this conference. Through all the speakers and talking with my peers, I learned that student-athletes do have a voice and we are here to change the typical sterotype of student-athletes and let them know that we are here to help and make a positive impact.
On behalf of myself and the rest of the student athletes that attended this weekend; Alexandra Zinn (Charlotte), Matt Buse (Dayton), Alex Dadds (George Washington), Jessica Crowley (Fordham), Adam Kammler (La Salle), Callie Sweigart (Massachusetts), Tristany Liekem (Rhode Island), Catherine Ostoich (Richmond), Lindsey King (Saint Joseph's), Carly Schumacher (Saint Louis), Danielle Frye (St. Bonaventure), Jenni Abercrumbie (Temple), and Aaron Siekmann (Xavier), I can say that is was one of the greatest opportunities we could ever have.