Aside from competing for their respective teams, student-athletes on Creighton’s campus are putting their time and energy into initiatives on and off campus through Creighton’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee chapter.
Made up of two to three representatives from each team, participants in SAAC are the voices for their organization on issues and conversations they feel should be had among student-athletes.
This year, the committee is focusing on civil engagement, concentrating especially on voter registration and education. Partnering with the Big East to provide forums and workshops, the committee aims to inform participants on topics and issues they’ll be voting on.
Next week, SAAC is hosting a registration event to get student-athletes registered to vote in their respective states.
Junior women’s basketball guard Rachael Saunders and junior men’s cross-country runner Bryce Shirley are co-presidents of this year’s chapter.
They meet weekly with Athletic Director Bruce Rasmussen and are tasked with formulating the ideas of the executive board and other student-athletes to take action on initiatives.
“I appreciate being able to hear from everyone and really be able to be in on those conversations to figure out what student-athletes need, what staff members need,” Saunders said. “We feel really honored to have those roles and we’re really hopeful we can make a difference while we’re here at Creighton.”
Along with preparing student-athletes for the November elections, SAAC is taking steps to act in the ongoing conversation of racial equality.
The committee is planning a speaking event with former athletes Anthony Tolliver (’07), Kyle Korver (’03) and Josh Dotzler (’09) to discuss their insights and advocating for racial justice.
Although it comes with challenging conversations, Shirley says he’s grateful for the chance to bring these discussions to light with the team he has.
“There’s a whole lot of adversity this year, and with great adversity I believe comes great opportunity to rise up as leaders,” he said. “I’m working with the best group, so I suppose the ability to be around brilliant minds and just being around the best of the best to tangibly and intangibly see positive change.”
A final initiative the committee will work on this semester will be involving themselves with Omaha in whatever capacity is allowed this year.
“We’re really hoping to make a difference with the Omaha community before all student-athletes go home,” Saunders said.
As they consider each of these initiatives and hope to make a change, Saunders and Shirley recognize the position they and other student-athletes have in Omaha and at Creighton as something they can do more with.
“We’re more than athletes. That’s the whole essence of Creighton, we’re men and women for and with others. We don’t want to just go through the motions of our sports. The world is far bigger than that, and we realize that.”
Starting in 2021, SAAC’s campus engagement officer will participate in Creighton Students Union meetings to bring their progress, concerns and conversations to others in the student body.