By David Roberts
Student athletes are competitors, leaders and advocates for change — and with the latest student-athlete organization, they have a voice.
Head coaches can select up to two representatives for each team in order to form the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). With varying areas of study and athletic departments, this committee is all about being leaders for the College’s athletes and general student body.
In November 2020, junior communications major and track and field competitor Victoria Vricella became president of SAAC with one goal in mind: to reconnect the College’s athletic community and to set the standard for sportsmanship.
“In my eyes, the purpose of SAAC is to celebrate the talent and pride TCNJ student-athletes bring to their sport, their academics, and the TCNJ community,” Vricella said. “As a member of the women’s track and field team, I’ve come to understand how powerful a team can be when individuals come together with all their passion and motivation to work together.”
Vricella and the executive board are operating with the utmost efficiency as they tackle student-athlete welfare, student-to-academic communications and education.
Additionally, they intend to host events and workshops.
“Student athletes can expect an enthusiastic executive board – shout out to Vice President Annette Wanjiku and Secretary David Rogriguez,” Vricella said. “We’ve been planning and facilitating a variety of workshops specifically for student-athletes that cover mental health, career preparation, athlete nutrition, and leadership development. In the future, we plan to incorporate more community service activities once Covid restrictions lift. In the meantime, we will be planning for this year’s Virtual Special Olympics hosted in the spring.”
Members of SAAC are equally as enthusiastic as the executive board. Senior special education and psychology dual major, and member of the women’s swimming and diving team Katie Doyle said the “executive board is doing a great job bringing in new ideas and new presenters to provide us with helpful resources going into the rest of our college and professional careers.”
Athletes are not the only priority of this organization because SAAC aims to create an inclusive environment for the general student body as well. The committee’s core values of teamwork, leadership, sportsmanship and selflessness resonate with everyone at the College, so everyone can gain from attending SAAC workshops and events.
Sophomore mechanical engineering major and football player Samuel Akinlolu said that student-athletes “can expect to be nurtured proactively” throughout their college career and SAAC aims to provide this opportunity for the rest of the student body.
“This camaraderie and team chemistry that forms is so special, so being a part of a program like SAAC that unites members from all TCNJ sports is incredible,” Vricella said.