SAAC plans spring splash event to raise money for Special Olympics

Jannae Mehaffey

Student Athlete Advisory Committee, known on campus as SAAC, is a student athlete ran organization that advocates for student athletes and attempts to solve any current issues Augustana athletes are facing. 

Junior softball player Janna George, who initially committed to Augustana as a member of the bowling team, began SAAC as a representative for the bowling team. Although she quit bowling and only plays softball now, she is still actively involved in the organization and represents the softball team as the vice president of SAAC. 

“This may come as a surprise seeing as I strictly play softball now, but I did commit to Augie to bowl and unfortunately was not able to balance the two,” George said. “I decided to still stay in SAAC since it seemed like a great opportunity to speak up for student athletes and also get involved with events on campus.”

Senior lacrosse player Kate Hettiger joined SAAC as a way to make a difference on campus. She was interested in joining the executive board from the very beginning, and her desire to be involved in student athletics at Augustana has led her to being the president of SAAC. 

“I wanted to actively be a part of my student athlete experience as a Division III athlete at Augustana and SAAC could provide that for me,” Hettiger said. “Right away I knew I wanted to be on the executive board and make a difference on our campus, so my freshman and sophomore year, I was the treasurer while my junior and senior year, I have been the president.”

Hettiger has been a part of several events while in SAAC, but her favorite is the Special Olympics polar plunge they did last year. Student athletes from all different sports on campus came to the Carver football field and jumped in freezing cold water to raise money for an organization they all care deeply about. 

“Although we still were in the midst of the pandemic, we were able to plan an event that all athletes on campus could take part in,” Hettiger said. “We had such a great turn out on campus in a COVID-safe environment and were able to raise money to donate to our local Special Olympics chapter.”

Doing this event for the Special Olympics has become an annual tradition for SAAC. Junior football player and SAAC treasurer Jacob Brooks believes the reason they work with Special Olympics every year for this event is because of how incredible the organization is. 

“We have always worked with the Special Olympics and have done a lot of events with them in the past,” Brooks said. “I think the Special Olympics hold a special place in the Augie community because it is such an amazing organization.”

This year, George has been planning an event similar to the previous polar plunge called the spring splash. She has put tons of effort into the planning and has been in contact with several Rock Island departments to make it happen. 

“Organizing this event has put me in contact with some great people in the Quad Cities, particularly the Rock Island Fire Department, Rock Island Police Department and Rock Island Public Works,” George said. “I worked directly with these people to organize an event that is probably the one of biggest fundraisers SAAC has ever executed, and I am very excited to see it come to fruition.”

The Augie Spring Splash occurred on May 4 from 3-5 p.m. There was a dunk tank for athletic faculty and several other fun activities. The event was open to all Augustana students and was a memorable experience for a great cause.

This is one of many remarkable things that SAAC has been a part of. Hettiger said she is very fond of her experience in SAAC up to this point and encourages student athletes to join.

“I would encourage anyone that wants to take an active role in their experience as a student athlete on Augustana’s campus as well as in Division III athletics in general to take part in this group,” Hettiger said. “You are able to make a difference on a number of different levels, whether it be on campus, in the local community or nationally.”

Similarly, George believes SAAC is a great opportunity to develop one’s leadership and form a voice in the athletic community. 

“Most colleges and universities have a SAAC board, and it is a great opportunity to learn about leadership and meet other people with different perspectives and ideas,” George said. “It is the perfect chance to bring your own ideas to the table and be heard.”