UT Student-Athlete Committee Rising to New Successes

By Dakota Busch 

The University of Tampa’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) will host their first fundraiser of the semester at Eddie and Sam’s Pizza on Tuesday, Feb. 23rd. 

The fundraiser will take place in Downtown Tampa from 5-10 pm. Every student is encouraged to stop by and grab a slice of pizza or even gelato.  All the proceeds will benefit the Make-A-Wish foundation, which is the NCAA DII’s national charity. 

“This year, we have already raised over $2,500 to go toward this foundation and the great work that they are doing to help sick children,” said Julia Ingram, SAAC President. “We hope to exceed $3,000 by the end of the year.”

Even with fewer in-person meetings and interactive events, SAAC has managed to host successful and productive fundraising events. 

“Despite the pandemic, this year has been one of the most successful and productive years for SAAC.,” said Ingram. “We hosted a food fundraiser at Chipotle, which brought in about $600, but our most successful fundraiser was our Virtual 5k in November called “Fast Before we Feast.”

Senior, Bailey Phillips, is the communication officer on SAAC and has been on the board for four years. She has also noticed the improvement in SAAC despite the pandemic. 

“The reason we have been successful these past two years is because of strong leadership and committed athletes that want to make a difference within our city and just around campus in general,” said Phillips. 

SAAC sponsor and faculty advisor, Jen Alger, has managed to lead successful meetings virtually this year. Having to socially distance has disallowed any SAAC members from meeting in person at conferences. 

“I would love to be able to get everyone face to face, and interacting with each other is what I think is missing from sac right now,” said Alger.

Another SAAC event that has been altered due to the pandemic is the Sparty awards. The Sparty’s in UT’s end of the year sports banquet. It is an event that allows athletes to celebrate their achievements on and off the field during the school year. 

“We are still in the planning process as the situation with the pandemic is very fluid,” said Ingram. “We are still committed to celebrating our athletes’ accomplishments in a meaningful way that recognizes all they have done.”

The Sparty’s will be a virtual event this year due to COVID-19. However, now that the administration and SAAC have had time to plan for it to be virtual, they are hoping to make it a more significant  event than last year.

“We will do something bigger and more dramatic than we did last year, which was basically just announcing the winner,” said Alger. “So we’re going to hopefully do something fun with the nominees and with the winners.”

Regardless of the challenges faced, SAAC reps have come together to help their athletic department, and their community. 

“I am so proud of this organization and all the good things that we are doing. I feel honored to lead such a great group of student-athletes,” said Ingram.

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