SAAC Spotlight: Ryan Yewchin of Simon Fraser
Ryan Yewchin began serving as the GNAC's national SAAC rep this past spring.
Ryan Yewchin began serving as the GNAC's national SAAC rep this past spring.
Ryan Yewchin
Ryan Yewchin

Friday, August 14, 2015

Part of a regular series.

Throughout the year, uses this space to profile conference student-athletes who are members of their respective institutions' Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). In addition to providing feedback on the student-athlete experience, conference and institutional SAAC members also offer input on the rules, regulations and policies that affect student-athletes' lives on NCAA member institution campuses. Click here for more information on the function of SAAC at the NCAA level.

Ryan Yewchin
Simon Fraser

Hometown: Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada

College major: History major, Geography minor

Year in school: Senior

Why did you choose to attend SFU? Simon Fraser University has an incredible wrestling tradition. We have produced multiple Olympic and world medalists such as Jeff Thue, Daniel Igali, Stacie Anaka, and Carol Huynh. SFU also has a phenomenal reputation for academics. Having the opportunity to compete in the NCAA, stay in Canada, and go to a school with such great athletic and academic traditions was an opportunity I was unable to pass on.

What is your favorite class you have taken in college and why? I'd have to say my favorite class I've taken was History 412W: Marxism and the Writing of History. This was the first time that I had been able to critically engage in research and discussions on Marx and Marxism. The readings were incredibly interesting. It was also a seminar class, so this meant that it was just the professor and 12 students discussing the readings. My classmates were awesome as well, they had so many critical questions and they always seemed prepared and keen to discuss and dissect the readings.

Who is your favorite professor you've had in college and what did you enjoy about learning from him or her? Dr. Joseph E. Taylor III has been one of my favorite professors. He's a historian and geographer whose focus is on environmental history and the North American West. I've taken four of his classes as part of both my major and minor. He has a great knack for presenting his lectures as historical narratives, and it makes them really easy to listen to and digest. He's also explained to his classes that getting a history degree makes you a hit at cocktail parties; you get to drop in on discussions and say "Well, it's more complicated than that..." and watch people’s eyes roll as you launch into a long-winded lecture on the subject.

Years involved in SAAC: Three

The reason I chose to get involved in SAAC: In my first year at SFU I knew a senior who was very involved in SAAC. He was someone who embodied the qualities of engagement and leadership that SFU prides itself on and I wanted to do my best to follow in his footsteps.

Most memorable SAAC activity: Clan bowling is a hoot and a half every year, although I never seem to do much bowling ... 

Favorite part of GNAC SAAC retreat: Being the only wrestling team in the GNAC we never travel to the other schools and meet the student-athletes there. The best part of the GNAC SAAC retreats for me is getting to visit the GNAC schools and meet the other student athletes.

If I could change one NCAA rule, it would be: Allowing noise makers at games.

What is the most important thing you've learned from balancing the demands of athletics and academics? The importance of time management, coffee travel mugs, and power naps.

What does it mean to be a Division II student-athlete? Being at SFU is a unique experience in Division II. As the only international school in the NCAA we're not only representing our school, we feel like we're representing our country.

Future goals after school: Becoming a high school teacher and wrestling coach on Vancouver Island.

Biggest obstacle overcame during my collegiate career: The first six weeks. It was a crazy adjustment coming from high school to the university. Living on your own, the intensity of college athletics, the difficulty of the school work. It was pretty hard to keep my head above water. 

Best advice I’d give to an incoming freshman: You make it into college athletics by being an elite high school athlete. Once you're in college, you realize that everything you've done before is mediocrity. Everyone on your team was the star athlete at their high school. Every one you compete against was the star athlete at their high school. You have to embrace that challenge and that level of competition.

If I could spend the day with one person (past or present), who would it be (and why)? I'd have to choose someone pretty interesting and knowledgeable. Ideally someone who was a historian, rancher, soldier, wrestler, boxer, writer, orator, politician, police chief, conservationists, trust buster, and had a great moustache. President Theodore Roosevelt covers all of those categories.

Favorite sports team: Chicago Blackhawks. Jonathan Toews is a Canadian hero and Patty Kane has the best playoff mullets I've ever seen.

Favorite athlete: Larry Bird

Most memorable sports-related moment: The two-hour round trip commutes myself and my dad did three times a week during my senior year of high school to practice with the AVWC. The sacrifices parents make for their kids are incredible.

One thing that people don't know about me is: I get pretty emotional when I watch Frozen. "Do You Want to Build a Snowman" gets me every time. It's a powerful song about loss, love, and sisterhood.