SAAC October Newsletter
By Brooke Ortale | UTAMavs.com
ARLINGTON, Texas - The UT Arlington Student Athlete Advisory Committee, otherwise known as SAAC, received recognition this week from the Sun Belt for finishing in third place in the conference’s Community Service Initiative Competition. The contest is a monthly event in which points are accumulated based on the student athlete involvement within the community.
Little Rock took home the year’s first title amassing just over 2,000 points and more than 600 community service hours. UT Arlington’s 1,822 points placed it just behind second place finisher Georgia State, who generated 1,893 points.
Tim Kennedy runs the school’s Student Athlete Advisory Committee and is very proud of the student Athletes at UT Arlington.
"It was great to finish so high in the contest." Kennedy said. "It was a team effort from all of our student athletes. It says a lot about our student athletes and how much they value giving back to the community."
In order to determine the winner of the first month’s award, the Sun Belt calculated the points and community service hours accumulated throughout the summer, as well as, the month of September. Within that time, the Mavericks reached out to the community in a multitude of ways. Some of those include organizations such as Urban Ministries and Meals on Wheels.
Placing third out of eleven teams is quite a feat for UT Arlington’s SAAC program, especially with it being one of the smaller athletic departments in the Sun Belt. UTA’s athletic department is comprised of 14 varsity sports with no football or soccer programs. Kennedy does agree that it is a bit of challenge for smaller schools in a competition such as this.
"I think the bigger schools are at a bigger advantage." Kennedy said. "If they have a football team and coaches make it mandatory for them to go and do something that’s over a hundred athletes doing something. The more student athletes you have, the more opportunities you have to do volunteer work."
In the coming months, the Mavs plan to stay busy reaching out in the community and staying atop the conference standings in the Community Service Initiative. A task that they have just started is the canned food drive. With that, they will be placing boxes throughout the UTA campus and the city of Arlington for people to donate canned foods that will eventually be donated to Tarrant County Food Bank. Darien McLemore, president of SAAC and a member of the UTA baseball team, is heading this project and is very passionate about getting the campus and community involved.
"A huge thing that SAAC’s been trying to work on is trying to get the campus community together and everyone together as one big school." McLemore said. "We think this is one way to help do that."
The canned food drive is a tradition that UT Arlington has been doing for 15 years now has found much success.
“We raised our target from 2,000 cans collected to 5,000 cans since we are involving everybody." McLemore said. "I think we are off to a pretty good start so far.”
Some of the other areas in which the student athletes on UTA’s campus hope to stay involved in the community are through a coat and toy drive they do in December and volunteering at Children’s Cook Hospital. On the first Monday of every month, they also help an organization called Urban Ministries pass out food to needy families.
UTA’s dig pink match is coming up on Thursday October 15th. In their efforts to help raise awareness for breast cancer, members of SAAC have already begun raising funds. Last week, student athletes made their presence known at the Texas Rangers game in an effort to receive donations for breast cancer research.
They have also sent out support letters in hopes of receiving some donations for the cause. In addition to actions they have already taken, SAAC members will be in attendance at the match against rival Texas State working a booth, as well as, volunteering throughout the game.
Through The Student Athlete Advisory Communities efforts of giving back to the community, they have seen a significant increase in attendance at this years volleyball games so far. There are hopes that throughout their continued presence in the community, UTA will see the same growth in fan support for other sports such as men’s and women’s basketball, softball and baseball.
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