SAAC Spotlight: Western Washington's Jessica Smithlin
Jessica Smithlin is a junior on the Western Washington women's rowing team and a member of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC).
Jessica Smithlin is a junior on the Western Washington women's rowing team and a member of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC).
Jessica Smithlin
Jessica Smithlin

Friday, May 1, 2020

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.

Name: Jessica Smithlin
Women's Rowing
Western Washington University
Orting, Washington

Why Did You Choose To Attend Western Washington?: Western Washington immediately felt like home when I went on my campus tour and I also have a family history of attending Western Washington.

What Is Your Favorite Class You Have Taken And Why?: My favorite class that I have taken would be Dance 100. I am nowhere close to being able to call myself a dancer but this class made it easy to learn while enjoying every minute. In this class, we learned choreography for different songs. Though it sounds easy, it was a lot of physical and mental work. The atmosphere of the classroom was the best. We had different levels of dancers and we all came into class every day ready to have fun.

Who Is Your Favorite Professor And What Did You Enjoy About Learning From Him Or Her?: My favorite professor is Toby Ten Eyck. On the first day of class, he told us his life story of how long it took him to get his undergraduate degree and made a point that he now has a doctorate. That story told me that it’s OK to take your time and figure out what you want to do with your life. The way he presented his lectures was laid-back and he made everything easy to understand.

Years Involved In SAAC: One year.

The Reason You Chose To Get Involved In SAAC: SAAC is an opportunity for me to get more involved in athletics and our school and make an impact on the lives of current and future student-athletes.

Most Memorable SAAC Activity To Date: The 2018 SAAC Retreat. This is where I discovered the kind of impact that SAAC can have on student-athletes and athletics.

How Do You Feel Participating In SAAC Will Help You In Life After You Graduate?: SAAC allows me to develop leadership skills that will prepare me for the workforce. SAAC also allows me to strengthen my communication skills through relaying information from other SAAC groups to my own.

What Does It Mean To You To Be A Division II Student-Athlete?: It’s the heart of what it means to be an athlete. We don't live in the spotlight like many Division I athletes do but we do the same amount of work and participate in similar activities. What we do often goes unnoticed until we appear out of the shadows to prove our excellence. It is humbling to be a Division II student-athlete.

What Is The Most Important Thing You’ve Learned About Balancing Athletics And Academics?: Time management is key. It’s easy to fall behind in one thing if you put too much time and effort into another.

Favorite Thing About Competing In The GNAC: The pride and camaraderie from school to school.

Most Memorable Sports-Related Moment: Watching “Western Washington” pop up on the selection show for nationals in my first year on the rowing team.

If You Could Change One NCAA Rule, It Would Be: I would allow student-athletes to get food benefits. Student-athletes put all of their time and energy into their sports and classes. Some athletes don't have time to cook a decent meal to refuel them to perform at their best. Student-athletes also can’t always get a job to pay for meals.

Best Advice You’d Give To An Incoming Freshman: College is going to be hard. Sometimes it’s not going to be fun but keep moving forward. Winning is done by not giving up.

If You Could Spend The Day With One Person (Past Or Present), Who Would It Be (And Why)?: I would want to spend the day with a fictional character, Rocky Balboa. It would make my dad jealous and Rocky is also who my dad quoted to help me stay in line with my goals. In the movies, Rocky has a lot of unrecognized wisdom that I want more of. He could teach me a lot about athletics as well as life.

Future Goals After Graduation: Begin the road to becoming a Washington state trooper. Once I get there, I will continue my education to work toward a master’s degree in sociology.

Favorite Sports Team: Seattle Seahawks.

Favorite Athlete: Russell Wilson. He wins humbly and serves with his heart. He puts in the work and constantly proves that he is above any negative stereotypes.

One Thing People Don’t Know About Me Is: During the baseball lessons in middle school, I got pulled aside by the physical education teacher. He spent half of the period teaching me how to hit a baseball. By the end of that one-on-one lesson, I still could not hit the ball.