Dec. 10, 2015
By Brooke Ortale | UTAMavs.com
ARLINGTON, Texas - UT Arlington's Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) takes pride in giving back to the community and doing whatever they can to help the city of Arlington, and it paid off by winning the Sun Belt Community Service Initiative for November.
"It's a tribute to how much work the SAAC reps were really doing," SAAC president and UTA baseball student-athlete Darien McLemore said. "It shows how much dedication they had. They're pushing all these charitable events out to their teammates and community and really just trying to get people involved."
The Sun Belt initiative is a monthly competition run by the conference with the team that accumulates the most amounts of monthly victories, winning the overall competition. Each month UTA has climbed up the leaderboard, finishing third in September and second for October before finally take the top prize in November.
UTA amassed 12,279 points, while second place Louisiana finished with 4,387. Included in the month's total was the canned food drive and volleyball's Dig Pink match. The initial goal for the canned food drive was to raise 2,000 cans, but with the help of all the student-athletes, academic staff and community, SAAC exceeded their expectations bringing more than 3,400 items.
"Our SAAC reps did a really good job of challenging all of their athletes and coaches," Tim Kennedy, student development specialist and staff SAAC representative said. "We also challenged the academic advisors, as well as the academic staff to participate in it. We teamed up with a couple of student organizations and some of the fraternities and sororities also brought in some cans."
UTA Volleyball's Dig Pink match raised more than $2,300 with proceeds going towards the Sideout Foundation.
While the canned food drive and Dig Pink match get most of the publicity, it is the smaller, under-the-radar community service acts that had major contributions to the SAAC's success. At least twice a month, student-athletes make a trip to Cook's Children Hospital. Every Friday members of SAAC go to Webb Elementary to stuff backpacks full of food to feed underprivileged kids. The softball team participated in a 5K benefiting breast cancer research.
"We have great athletes here," McLemore said. "We have great character, integrity and we really want to be out there and help change lives. Having those kinds of attitudes around this entire athletic department makes it easy for people to get out there and contribute."
The Mavericks have not settled for just winning in November. They have already started their community service for December by helping with a teddy bear drive that they expect to be a huge success. Look for SAAC to create a couple of clothing and coat drives during athletic events in January. Visit UTAMavs.com and follow SAAC on twitter @UTASAAC.
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