SAAC continues to work despite sports hiatus

Nick Gainey

Even though the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the postponement of fall athletics, some Augustana athletes have stayed busy through the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC).
SAAC was founded two years ago and consists of two representatives from each men’s and women’s athletic team. The organization’s mission statement is “to improve the total student-athlete experience by promoting opportunity, protecting student-athlete physical and mental well-being and facilitating positive student-athlete involvement with the campus and the surrounding community.” The group does a wide range of work around campus, and even has a vote on NCAA legislation.
SAAC covers a wide variety of student-athlete values. 
“We have 6 main committees within which are mental health, diversity, social media, service and outreach, fundraising and D3 week,” SAAC member and senior Dan Bornstein said.
The group participates in a wide variety of service activities, according to secretary Kaitlin Rusin, a senior on the softball team.
“In the past, we did clothing drives, shoe drives for Closet to Closet. One year we did an Augie Play Day where we had local kids like the Boys and Girls Club and local elementary schools just to hang out and play some games with some of the athletes on campus,” Rusin said.
Recently, SAAC has taken the initiative to encourage civic engagement among the athletic teams. The organization formed a voting committee that encouraged each team to be 100% registered to vote, according to president Kate Hettiger, a junior on the lacrosse team. The diversity and sports committee is also working to emphasize the arrival of new sports, particularly women’s wrestling. 
When SAAC was formed, many student athletes were unsure of what it was and its place in the world of athletics. But student-athletes have loved being a part of the organization.
“I decided to join because my coach actually recommended that I look into it. We were starting fresh with SAAC my freshman year,” Hettiger said. “I came to the first meeting and loved it. I think trying to change things on campus and make our sports experiences as student-athletes better is something that not a lot of people can say they get to do, so it’s a pretty cool experience.”