SAAC Builds Community for Athletes


SAAC members. Contributed by Josie Furbershaw

Jesse Sindelar, Sports Reporter

The life of a student athlete is a tremendously busy one at Whitman. Regardless of their sport, varsity athletes have constant commitments to their team on top of the same school work and other obligations non-athletes have. With practice and homework every day for most athletes, as well as the continuous commitment that comes with being on a team, maintaining a presence in the Whitman community as a whole can be a challenge.

Enter The Student Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC). SAAC is an organization at Whitman run by student athletes, for student athletes. Their overall goal is to enhance athletes’ experiences at Whitman through a sense of community and service.

One way they are trying to achieve that is by starting programs, like Athletes Supporting Athletes. In this initiative, each varsity team’s SAAC representative organizes for their team to cheer on fellow varsity teams in their competitions.

“We want to make a point of supporting our fellow athletes at their events,” sophomore swimmer Jonah Rodewald said. 

Rodelwald serves on the Executive Committee of SAAC. With the undeniably busy schedule of a student athlete, he is aware that constant support for other athletes is easier said than done.

“Getting individuals on teams involved in events like this can be challenging, but it’s a challenge we are taking head on.”

With events like Powerade Pong and the SAAC Olympics, SAAC has also put together events that all varsity athletes can take part in to build a stronger athletic community as a whole.

For SAAC to make the collective athletic community they are aiming for, they need to get all athletes from all teams involved. Each varsity team has a SAAC representative that is an advocate for their sport within SAAC. These representatives meet once per week to discuss how SAAC can improve the experience of its athletes from all sports, a process that allows SAAC to be a crucial liaison between the team and Whitman’s Athletic Department.

One key part of SAAC’s agenda is to have a positive influence in every community athletes interact with.

“We strive to create leadership opportunities in the community for athletes, and get every athlete involved within the athletics and/or Walla Walla community,” said Allie Wallin, a senior tennis player and Co-President of SAAC.  

“We are trying to create a space for student athletes by creating communities within athletics and Whitman, but also by giving back to the Walla Walla community through service,” Josie Furbershaw, a junior swimmer and secretary on the Executive Committee of SAAC, added. 

Through SQORD, a fitness tracking program for kids, SAAC has partnered with Providence St. Mary Medical Center to have varsity teams put on activities for local elementary school kids here on the Whitman campus.

“They [St. Mary] are really trying to encourage these kids to go out and be active, so once a month we have different varsity teams hosting games and activities here on campus for the kids to do just that,” continued Furbershaw.

For those who aren’t in varsity athletics, SAAC might not seem as important as it is. While they might not be well known to everyone, the student athletes on SAAC are working for a communal good. By improving the experiences of their teammates and the communities their sports constantly interact with, they are showing athletes and non-athletes alike what their organization can do to enhance the Whitman and Walla Walla community we all reside in.