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Missy White
Missy White is the SMC SAAC Co-President, the Gaels' WCC representative, and the WCC's NCAA...

Gael Student-Athletes Have a Voice

MORAGA, Calif. - Student-athletes by nature tend to be leaders, particularly once they get to the college level. Among the various opportunities to exhibit those leadership skills off the court or field is through the school's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC).

SAAC is a school, conference and national program that provides student-athletes an opportunity to shape the landscape of intercollegiate athletics by promoting communication between athletic administration and student-athletes. The mission of the NCAA SAAC is to "enhance the total student-athlete experience by promoting opportunity, protecting student-athlete welfare and fostering a positive student-athlete image."

One of the more active leaders on the Saint Mary's campus is volleyball player Missy White. Not only is the junior from Cottonwood Heights, Utah the SMC SAAC co-president and one of the school's West Coast Conference representatives, White earned the honor of being named the WCC's NCAA representative for the next two years.

This summer, White attended a four-day NCAA conference in Indianapolis where representatives from all 31 Division I conferences and the NCAA staff spoke about legislation and other important issues prevalent in the world of college athletics today.

"The honor of representing student-athletes of the WCC at the NCAA conference went beyond my expectations," said White. "Not only was I able to voice thoughts, we were presented with what is happening in the NCAA directly from them. The biggest thing I learned from this conference is that the student-athlete voice is heard and those who are running the NCAA want to have all the athletes involved. After all, what they do is affecting the athletes on a day-to-day basis. I learned that any student-athlete can be heard if they put themselves out there."

White and men's basketball player Beau Levesque are the Gaels' representatives at West Coast Conference SAAC meetings, where reps from the nine member institutions discuss legislation, community service and sportsmanship among other things.

"It really is an honor, as well as a responsibility, to help make our student-athlete experience at Saint Mary's as positive as it can possibly be," said Levesque. "Being a part of SAAC here at Saint Mary's and at the West Coast Conference really gives me a new perspective. I really enjoy being involved with helping develop policy and shaping the college experience for our athletes."

A major talking point at the WCC meetings this fall was regarding the new sportsmanship initiative the conference implemented which proved to be highly successful. The program promoted the theme "Represent," encouraging good sportsmanship and challenging WCC student-athletes, coaches, administrators and fans to proudly represent the West Coast Conference, their school, their team and themselves.

"The College's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee continues to be a critical committee that provides insight to the Gael student-athlete experience," said SMC Director of Athletics Mark Orr. "We have been so fortunate to have outstanding student-athlete leaders whom actively participate on this committee and provide leadership to each one of their teams. I certainly look forward to supporting the many initiatives and goals that the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee is planning to implement this year."

Despite juggling academics, athletics and a social life, student-athletes generally feel very rewarded and embrace the opportunity to provide leadership and help shape the experience of other athletes around them through the SAAC.

"I enjoy the opportunity to represent the athletes at my school and now my conference in a way that is very unique," said White. "I have learned from being in multiple leadership positions that the administrators and leaders want to know what we are thinking as well as what our opinions are on certain topics. The student-athlete voice needs to be heard and SAAC has a system for every individual to voice their thoughts. I like being on SAAC because it is a way to put your needs and wants into action."

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