March 13, 2012
Throughout her final season at Tennessee, senior Natalie Pluskota will provide her account and reflections of the 2012 season. In this edition, Pluskota talks about her experiences with the Student Athlete Advisory Committee.
I have been one of the tennis reps on the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) since my freshman year. Every other week, student-athletes meet to discuss any issues that may need to be addressed, as well as any upcoming events. SAAC is a great place to bring up current team issues, as well as ideas for new community service opportunities. One of the main concentrations of our meetings right now is Volscars, which is Tennessee's very own version of the Oscars, simply an award show celebrating and recognizing athletic accomplishments for the year.
Despite the long weekend of traveling, the girls and I got the opportunity to be apart of one of the Volscars "hype" videos at The Rock on Monday night. The tennis team made up a good amount of the student-athletes present for the video, but other sports were also represented. At first, some of the athletes starting painting a white base coat on The Rock. It did not take long before Brynn starting slinging paint everywhere but at the Rock. The party had begun.
Paint was being thrown everywhere, as the video guy took footage for our "hype" video. Jo managed to avoid getting covered with paint for the first ten minutes or so, as she ran down the street every time she felt threatened. It did not take long before she gave in and was covered with paint. Antonio "Tiny" Richardson, one of our football players walked out of the Thornton Center and wandered across the street to see what was going on. It was not long before the "Big Man on Campus" was covered in paint! To say the least, we got some great footage for our video while having a great time doing it.
SAAC has given me many opportunities to reach out to the community, as well as improve my skills as a leader. Through SAAC, I was able to attend the 2009 NCAA Leadership Conference in Orlando. We spent tons of time in a "classroom" setting discussing different types of leadership qualities as well as different leadership styles. We also spent a good amount of time participating in team-building activities and games, in which leadership qualities were often exposed.
I was also able to attend the NCAA Coaching Conference in Indianapolis last summer. This conference was set up similarly to leadership conference but we spent almost all of our time in a classroom setting listening to various speakers. Through both of these conferences I was given the opportunity to network and meet hundreds of student-athletes from all over. I was able to gain knowledge and experience, which will help me in the future when I become a coach.
My top five community service opportunities through SAAC:
-Boo at the Zoo: Dress up in Halloween costumes, stationed throughout the Knoxville Zoo, handed out candy and took pictures with kids in their Halloween costumes (basically trick-or-treating in the zoo)
-Popsicles on the Pedestrian: Hand out Popsicles to students on a hot day on Pedestrian Walkway
-Race for the Cure: Cheered on runners as they finished the race
-Feed the Need: Through an assembly line, we packaged nutritious meals for those in need
-Holiday Dinner: Planned and served dinner to 50 homeless people, played bingo, sang Christmas carols, donated clothes, gear, and toiletries to them
On another note, Spring Break starts in less than one week, and the excitement of going to Las Vegas is apparent. For most of us, it will be the first time in Vegas, but for Sarah she will be right at home. Most of my family will be meeting us there and it will be their first time as well! I'm so excited! We will continue to prepare for our next three matches, as our spring break will be spent in three different cities in seven days!