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Annual SAAC Retreat Takes Student-Athletes To Alaska
One of two GNAC schools sponsoring a varsity men's ice hockey program, SAAC representatives took in en exhibition game between the Nanooks and a club team from Simon Fraser.
One of two GNAC schools sponsoring a varsity men's ice hockey program, SAAC representatives took in en exhibition game between the Nanooks and a club team from Simon Fraser.
The GNAC SAAC Retreat included a number of meetings along with guest speakers and fun activities.
The GNAC SAAC Retreat included a number of meetings along with guest speakers and fun activities.

Friday, October 12, 2018
by Dana Goularte, GNAC Championships & Compliance Assistant

Fairbanks, Alaska - The Great Northwest Athletic Conference hosted its annual Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) Retreat at the University of Alaska Fairbanks from September 27 to 30. During the retreat, SAAC members exchanged ideas and campus initiatives and reviewed upcoming NCAA legislation. Along with these activities, individuals were able to enjoy several different events and hear from guest speakers Betsy Butterick and Lance Allred.

“For me, the best part of the SAAC retreat is networking with SAACs and other athletes all across the GNAC. This allows us to compare ideas of what has worked for our campuses as well as what has not worked. This enables us to be more effective SAACs because we have a sense of direction of what has worked in the past or on other campuses.Nathan Taylor, Alaska

“Having the GNAC retreat allows us to collaborate and improve our own SAACs in a way that a phone conference could not. I am so thankful for the connections I was able to make, and I am so excited to watch them compete when they come to my city.” – Nicole Niskanen, Western Oregon

GUEST SPEAKERS
Keynote speaker Betsy Butterick, a former collegiate athlete, addressed the group of 14 student-athletes and shared experiences from her journey as well as advice about the importance of communication within a team.

“I learned the importance of "we" or "I" statements, how to be a successful leader, and the importance of word choice and tone. Also, the best way to confront conflict.” – Keesha Sarman, Concordia

Lance Allred was another guest speaker that shared his story about being the first legally deaf individual in the NBA. Through his trials and triumphs, he explained his five pillars of success.

“My favorite part of the GNAC retreat was listening to Lance Allred. Lance spoke on what it means to lead yourself and to really take control of your own success. His story was inspirational and hearing him speak is something I will never forget.” – Daniel Calderon-Hernandez, Central Washington

ACTIVITIES
The GNAC SAAC Retreat provided student-athletes the opportunity to collaborate with other schools and share ideas implemented on campus. It also presented opportunities to explore the host institution and the city of Fairbanks.

CHENA HOT SPRINGS & NORTHERN LIGHTS
The SAAC representatives were able to enjoy a natural hot spring located approximately 60 miles northeast of Fairbanks. The Chena Hot Springs has temperatures that average 106 degrees year round. The hot springs also included an amazing view of the Alaskan night skies that featured the amazing aurora borealis. With an unobstructed view, the northern lights boasted green and blue colors throughout the sky.

RIFLE INSTRUCTION
Unlike any other GNAC member institution, Alaska boasts one of the countries top collegiate rifle programs. Ten-time NCAA champions, the UAF rifle team and SAAC representative Nathan Taylor showed visiting SAAC representatives the intricacy of his sport.

SANTA CLAUS HOUSE
SAAC representatives also enjoyed a fun trip up to North Pole, located near Fairbanks, to visit Santa Claus. At the Santa Claus House, there were a variety of fun activities for the student-athletes to enjoy including visiting Mr. and Mrs. Claus and their famous reindeer.

“The GNAC SAAC retreat enables us to reach out to other conference leaders in ways we can’t through competition. It helps create a platform of comfortability for the rest of the year.” – Raquel Pellecer, Western Washington

You can learn more about the GNAC SAAC, along with the student-athletes who make up SAAC programs at all GNAC institutions, throughout the year at GNAC Sports.com in our GNAC SAAC Spotlight.

REPRESENTATIVES AT THE 2018 GNAC SAAC RETREAT

NAME SCHOOL SPORT
Kaylin Mancari Alaska Anchorage Gymnastics
Tony Naciuk Alaska Anchorage Skiing
Sarissa Lammers Alaska Skiing
Logan Mowry Alaska Cross Country
Nathan Taylor Alaska Rifle
Daniel Calderon-Hernandez Central Washington Track & Field
Keesha Sarman Concordia Women's Basketball
Abbie Lohof Montana State Billings Track & Field
Carly Parker Northwest Nazarene Women's Basketball
Austin Feist Saint Martin's Baseball
Laura Jones Simon Fraser Women's Golf
Kaitlin Dickinson Seattle Pacific Rowing
Nicole Niskanen Western Oregon Cross Country/Track & Field
Raquel Pellecer Western Washington Track & Field

 

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