ODAC SAAC Active in 2018-19 Academic Year

Student-athletes pose for a group photo after participating in the Walk-for-Water sponsored by ODAC SAAC.
Student-athletes pose for a group photo after participating in the Walk-for-Water sponsored by ODAC SAAC.

FOREST, Va. --- The 2018-19 academic year was a banner year for the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). SAAC's activities were higlighted by two conference-wide initiatives to help local community members as well as those in need abroad.

The first initiative took place in the fall semester, with each member institution conducting food drives on their respective campuses. Collectively, the ODAC donated 15,520 items to local organizations. The second conference-wide initiative was conducted during Division III Week in the spring. For the second straight year, the ODAC partnered with Water Mission, a non-profit clean water charity that builds sustainable clean water solutions in developing countries and disaster areas. Each institution raised funds to help bring safe water to hundreds of men, women, and children in Puerto Rico, and several groups hosted a Walk for Water to help bring awareness to the water crisis around the world.

“It was great to see the entire Bridgewater community come together for a cause that made a global impact," stated Brett Jones, President of SAAC at Bridgewater College. "We had support from everyone on our campus, which led to financial contributions as well as an awareness for how some parts of the world are struggling for a basic necessity.

Participants in the Walk for Water started the three-mile event with an empty bucket. Halfway through, each filled their buckets with water and completed the remainder of the course. Participants ended the walk with a better understanding of the challenges people around the world face. Many are still forced to go great lengths to retrieve the water needed to meet their family’s daily needs.

Thomas Agostini, President of SAAC at Washington and Lee University, reflected on the event, commenting, “Walk for Water was a great opportunity to provide aid for those in need without losing sight of who and why we are helping. The walk itself helped our SAAC group reflect on the inherent privilege we have with limitless access to clean water and take a stand to help those who do not.”

The ODAC SAAC organized the fundraising initiative as a friendly competition among all 15 full-time member institutions. They embraced the challenge and collectively raised $4,100 for Water Mission. Through the first two years of the partnership between Water Mission and the ODAC, more than $5,600 have been donated for clean water initiatives.  

“We are extremely fortunate to have student-athletes interested in giving time and attention to worthwhile causes,” said ODAC Commissioner Brad Bankston. “The conference SAAC has led, focusing on several key issues challenging their localities and communities overseas. This global perspective speaks to the educational values instilled by our member schools.”

ODAC schools and student-athletes have a long history of giving back to their surrounding communities as well as regional and national programs through various outlets. The conference has had a long-standing partnership with Special Olympics Virginia, a collaboration which pre-dates the adoption of a national support program for Special Olympics by NCAA Division III.

During the recently completed basketball seasons, the ODAC’s men’s and women’s teams partnered with V University virtual campus for supporting cancer research with a successful second season of a multi-year collaboration. The conference’s efforts helped raise money to support the V Foundation for Cancer Research and the Kay Yow Cancer Fund.

The ODAC SAAC and committees on campus have also targeted sportsmanship at league athletic events over the past two years. The conference's sportsmanship statement was redrafted into a more encompassing and robust two-part message that is reflective of the focus on sportsmanship at member schools. SAAC also spearheaded a special PSA-style video where student-athletes from each campus were recorded reading the ODAC's sportsmanship statement. The clips were combined to form one inclusive video featuring all 15 schools. The video will be used on ODAC and member school video streams as well as in arenas/gyms where video-capable resources are available.

For more information, visit the websites of any of the participating schools, or go to the ODAC’s home on the Internet at www.odaconline.com. Don’t forget to become a fan of the ODAC on Facebook and follow @odacathletics on Twitter and Instagram.