The inaugural year for the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) at Goshen College is set to give a voice to athletes, bridge the divide of students on campus and give back to local and national charitable organizations.

The committee was introduced by first-year GC athletic director Harold Watson. Watson is striving to engineer a strong athletic department by elevating the status of student-athletes in the department.

“I just want to first create leaders,” Watson said. “Also, I want to hear what’s important to them and this group is empowered to speak on behalf of their teams.”

The implementation of SAAC provides an opportunity for student-athletes to gain experience in leadership and provide insight to aid the athletic department in their operations.

SAAC consists of two male and female representatives from each sport, four student-athlete leaders and two administrative faculty. They meet in the Rec and Fitness Center once or twice a month in order to bounce ideas off each other with a goal of hosting an event or fundraiser every month.

An area of emphasis for the committee this year has been to unify non-athletes on campus and student-athletes.  Chelsea Foster, a junior and SAAC student leader, has noticed a divide between the two groups since coming to Goshen, and feels as though the committee can play a vital role in not only the athletic department, but the entire student body.

“I feel like I can fit in with both [athletes and non-athletes],” Foster said. “I wanted to be a part of a change that helped bring together those students.”

Sharing ideas and orchestrating events to bring the two parties into the same space enables this goal to come to fruition. Their debut school function occurred on homecoming weekend as students gathered to play cornhole and socialize with each other prior to the women’s soccer game.

The first SAAC-sponsored fundraiser was a trick-or-can food drive where members of the committee invited friends and teammates to go to houses in the community and ask for non-perishable food items to collect and send to a local food pantry.

This fundraiser was the first of many to come for the advisory committee. Katherine Boyer, a senior SAAC student leader, announced the next sponsored event, which will take place on Dec. 5.

“We are pairing up with the men’s basketball team and raising money for the fight against prostate cancer,” Boyer said.

At the game, shirts will be sold for $5, with proceeds benefiting prostate cancer research.

Events like these are what makes the introduction of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee special and beneficial to Goshen College as a whole. It offers a common place in athletics for students on campus to rally together and show school spirit while supporting a good cause.

“I’m ready to help make Goshen athletics something people want to come back and take part of,” said Boyer.

By giving student-athletes a voice, offering a place for leadership experience and bringing Goshen College’s campus together for charitable causes, SAAC looks to transform the culture behind athletics at GC.

“My goal for SAAC is to find things that are important to [student-athletes] and support those initiatives,” Watson said. “Whether that’s creating change on our campus or department, giving back to their community, supporting each other’s teams or you name it, I just want them to use their voice.”