Written by SJC senior student-athlete Nick Shuckrow
"Community, Sportsmanship, and Integrity" These are the values of the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC). These are the values that all the student athletes within the GNAC conference try to emulate, especially the student athletes that get the privilege of being a part of the Student Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC) for their respective schools. The mission of the National Collegiate Athletic Association Student-Athlete Advisory Committee is to "enhance the total student-athlete experience by promoting opportunity, protecting student-athlete welfare and fostering a positive student-athlete image."
On Sunday, March 26th six members of Saint Joseph's College SAAC and I drove down to Boston early in the morning to attend a GNAC SAAC Retreat at the Hilton Garden Inn. This was my first time attending a conference like this and it was a unique and educational experience. We opened the meeting by doing introductions and an icebreaker where we played rock paper scissors against other schools' SAAC members until we had a winner.
Before this conference, we all had to fill out an online assessment called DISC. DISC is a simple tool that helps people connect better with each other. It is a report that uses your individual assessment data to provide information about your workplace priorities and preferences. Led by NCAA Associate Director of Leadership Development, Justin Paysinger, we went through exactly what DISC was. Throughout this process, we broke off into teams or into pairs to discuss or perform activities that helped demonstrate our individual personalities. Going through this process allowed me to learn things about myself that I didn't even know. Gaining this knowledge about myself will become an important tool in my future. Being able to bring this information back to Saint Joseph's College and share this information with my fellow teammates will benefit our team by not just helping us communicate better with each other, but also to help us build stronger bonds.
Once we had completed the DISC assessment we broke for lunch where we had a guest speaker, Larry Last, come in and talk to us. He oversees New England Collegiate Officiating and is responsible for the recruitment and hiring of officials to work basketball games in New England for DIII and high school. He came in to talk to us about his vision of changing the way officials operate. He wants all officials to be more proactive about protecting athletes and stopping any verbal or physical abuse that may occur during an athletic event. He also wants his officials to be more interactive with the coaches and athletes by talking to them more and answering any questions that they may have.
Our last affair of the day was an open forum and discussion where SAAC groups had the chance to discuss their challenges, their fundraising, community service, and the overall well being of the student athletes at their institutions. Being able to listen and share ideas with other SAAC members from the GNAC was an educational experience for me. I learned that every school's SAAC was doing incredible community service projects that ranged from hosting Special Olympics events, fundraising for charities, as well as helping at local churches and hospitals.
Being able to attend this conference gave me the chance to meet and create bonds with student athletes from other colleges. I learned of new ways to grow our own SAAC here at Saint Joseph's College and to get more involved with our school and community. This was an enlightening experience, where I learned a lot about myself and about how to interact and work with others, which I will take into my professional career once I graduate from Saint Joseph's College of Maine this May.
Nick Shuckrow is a senior Sports Management major who captained the men's cross country team last fall and ran track & field at Saint Joseph's for three years. As a senior, he is serving as the President of SAAC and the Sports Management Student Association while also working as an intern in the SJC Sports Information Office.