It’s about sportsmanship

It’s about sportsmanship

Student athletes build a commitment to giving back

Student athletes shoot around with elementary school students.

While student athletes devote a lot of energy to classroom demands and receive recognition for their competitive exploits, it’s their passion for helping others that has made 2009-10 especially memorable.

Cal State L.A.’s Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) has been very active this year, donating time and funds to build awareness among athletes in 11 intercollegiate sports about the importance of giving back. Each program has SAAC representatives who encourage teammates to get involved.

Whether it’s bake sales, a “Spare Change Challenge” or other efforts, “our SAAC student athletes are doing a tremendous job,” said Associate Athletics Director and SAAC advisor Sheila Hudson. “Somehow, they manage to juggle homework and competitions and still find the time in their busy schedules to support families going through tough times or to teach elementary school kids how to play volleyball and soccer. As a result of our student athletes’ compassion and dedication, SAAC is a positive presence on campus and in the community.”

The Adopt-A-Family holiday program, run in cooperation with the Pasadena Salvation Army, was one highlight. Student-athletes built a fund, then shopped for gifts with families’ wish lists in mind, and delivered big time—with Santa Claus in attendance—at a Cal State L.A. basketball game in December.

Female basketball student athletes teach shooting drill to small elementary school children.

This spring, SAAC is participated the University’s annual Educational Participation In Communities (EPIC) event, “CSULA, Here We Come!” During the event, student athletes will introduced 300 elementary school students to college sports.

SAAC participants were also at the “Nothin’ But Sand” beach clean-up at the Santa Monica Pier in April.

“I grew up a Camp Fire girl, so community service has always been very important to me,” said SAAC president Erica Thomas, a member of both the women’s soccer and track and field teams. “We have tried a lot of new activities this year …and because of it we’ve been able to get more student-athletes involved.”

Baseball player Chris Matzner, in his second year with SAAC, agreed, noting that the group hopes to continue to grow participation through new activities.

“We’re thinking about another cool activity, like a dodge ball tournament, that will be fun and another way for us to raise money for charity,” he said.

Each California Collegiate Athletic Association school has a student athlete committee with the mission of enhancing student athletes’ college experience by promoting opportunity, protecting welfare, maintaining athletic integrity, fostering a positive image, and acting as a liaison among student athletes and administrators. Last year, SAAC groups throughout the conference raised more than $16,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and the goal is to eclipse that total this year.

“Through their involvement with SAAC, our student athletes are learning yet another valuable lesson that they can take away from Cal State L.A.—the importance of helping others,” Hudson said.