Leadership, Advocacy and Service: The Voices of SAAC
The student-athletes who will represent Arizona Athletics on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee in 2020-21 tell you their own stories of why they serve and the mission of this important organization. Merle Weidt of Arizona Volleyball serves as Co-Chair of the Health and Wellness Sub-Committee after transferring to Arizona from Rutgers.
While most athletes decide to become part of SAAC after they started playing and got to know the school and athletics department, I already knew that I wanted to be part of SAAC when I was talking to my coaches about transferring to Arizona. At my old school, I had already been involved in SAAC since freshman year and served one year as VP for International Student Support. During that time, I evolved as a leader and recognized SAAC as a great opportunity to give back to the program and my teammates. Given my previous experience, I really wanted to join SAAC at Arizona as well, to represent my team and give back to the student-athlete community.
Being part of SAAC is an honor and I am striving to fulfill the expectations my teammates have towards me as their SAAC rep. I want to represent them the best I can and serve as a connection between the department and our program. This is very important to me because I want to give everyone the opportunity to be heard and positively remember their time as an athlete.
The moment, I walked onto campus the first time, I had the feeling that Arizona Athletics is a family. I was impressed how staff from completely different sections of the department knew each other and joked around, or how my coaches knew and talked to student-athletes from different teams. During the last months, not only Dave Heeke but also other members from the administration joined our team calls to see how we were doing and stay connected. All those little gestures are not something that can be taken for granted and give Arizona Athletics this special family environment, I personally value so much. Being part of SAAC gives me the chance to support this family environment and strengthen the ties between my team and the department.
My freshman year, I got on my flight from Germany and was thrown into college life in the United States with no idea what was waiting for me. As could be expected, I was overwhelmed. Although I was fascinated by it and learned to love college athletics, I quickly realized the importance of my mental health. Not only did it impact my play but also the way I was living my life outside of volleyball. The struggle of my freshman year changed me and my view on mental health. I started to care for it and soon felt how it can also positively impact my performance on the court but also my joy in life. Talking to others showed me how big the need for mental health awareness is and how much impact it has on us as athletes and persons. Given my own experience, I made it my passion to help others and understand the impact of your mental health.
I am honored to be elected to serve as the Co-Chair of Health and Wellness for the upcoming semester and work together with David Laskin to raise awareness for the importance of mental health and improve the support system. We are working to spread general awareness for mental health by organizing little campaigns and events to encourage everyone to talk about it and be comfortable to reach out for help. I personally would also love to establish a strong support system within student-athletes by strengthening the positions of our mental health ambassadors. Seeing them holding educational mental health workshops for everyone is a goal I would love to achieve.
SAAC is something special, and not every school has a well-functioning one. I encourage every athlete to get involved and make use of their SAAC rep. We are the student athlete voices. We are heard by the department and have an impact on many decisions made. We get to decide what topics are important to us and what projects we want to work on. So, to every athlete out there: get engaged and talk to your SAAC rep because you can actually have an impact on your experience.
SAAC EXECUTIVE BOARD
Bryce Wolma - Co-President - Football
Sam Thomas - Co-President - Women's Basketball
Trevor Volpe - Co-Chair of Career and Leadership Development - Track & Field
Jordan Geist - Co-Chair of Career and Leadership Development - Track & Field
David Laskin - Co-Chair of Health and Wellness - Men's Golf
Noah Reid - Chair of Community Service - Swimming & Diving
Victoria Navarro - Co-Chair of Diversity and Inclusion - Swimming & Diving
Eric Correa - Co-Chair of Diversity and Inclusion - Swimming & Diving
Merle Weidt - Co-Chair of Health and Wellness - Volleyball