Looking back on my time in San Diego, I experienced a whirlwind of emotions.
The week prior to going, I had no idea what to expect. Was I going to be dressed the right way? Had I prepared enough? You think it, I asked it. I was nervous, but yet I was so excited to see what the week had in store for me.
I arrived in San Diego late Monday night (a mistake on my part because come Tuesday morning downtime would be at a minimum). All day Tuesday and Wednesday morning we spent together as the Division III National SAAC. These two days were filled with debates over legislation, which proved to be very intense and somewhat anguishing at times. And of course we spent time preparing for the convention ahead of us.
The 2014 NCAA Convention officially kicked off Wednesday afternoon with speaker Jim Nantz. This luncheon was my first true taste of how student-athletes are viewed in the eyes of the NCAA. We were treated like celebrities to say the least. I had a front row seat to Jim Nantz's inspirational speech, one of the most famous sportscasters of all time.
Going back to the way the NCAA views it's student-athletes, the most amazing part of all convention was to see how much our voice matters. SAAC really is important. I can't even begin to explain how much of an influence our voice has as student-athletes. One experience I had, one I won't forget, occurred Friday morning at the Issues Forum. The room had around 1,000 NCAA members ranging from Athletic Directors to Presidents to FAR's. 22 of us were DIII student-athletes. One topic discussed was the addition of athletic commitment letters in DIII, something that I would have loved to take place in when committing to Catholic. After hearing multiple opinions from various AD's, Presidents, and FAR's, I was strongly encouraged to approach the mic and express my opinion as a student- athlete. I urged the membership to look at the topic as a celebratory factor for high school student-athletes. To think about the joy it would bring to them and their family. After all, both DI and DII student-athletes get to participate, so why not us? After voicing my opinion, a FAR stood up and asked if a straw poll could be taken on my suggestion. The result came back with the majority in support of a celebratory commitment letter for DIII student-athletes. Seeing the way my one comment swayed the thinking of many members was an indescribable feeling. It really showed how much our voice is valued, and made all of the work leading up to convention completely worth it.
I learned a multitude of valuable lessons. One of the most simple being, don't be afraid. If you feel strongly about something, stand up and let your voice be heard. Also, don't be afraid to meet new people. Everyone has a story, and you may just find one worth listening to like I did so many times during my week at convention.
My week at the 2014 NCAA Convention was one of the greatest weeks of my life. I was surrounded by amazing individuals who supported and guided me along the way. I can't wait for next year!