SAAC Spotlight: Western Oregon's Eli Nafziger
Eli Nafziger placed seventh at the GNAC Championships with a javelin throw of 51.21 meters (168 feet).
Eli Nafziger placed seventh at the GNAC Championships with a javelin throw of 51.21 meters (168 feet).

Friday, December 31, 2021

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: Eli Nafziger
Sport: Track and Field
Institution: Western Oregon University
Year: Junior
Major: Exercise Science
Hometown: Albany, Oregon

Why Did You Choose To Attend WOU?: The opportunity they gave me to pursue my academic and athletic goals. I love the feel of a smaller campus because I can create meaningful relationships with the professors and staff, and have a positive impact on the community through programs like SAAC.

What Is Your Favorite College Class And Why?: Kinesiology. I have enjoyed learning about the body and movements in a practical way I can apply to my everyday life, especially as an athlete. We even had a class period where we just threw around different types of sports balls and discussed how our body adapts to each one.

Who Is Your Favorite Professor?: Dr. Lex Gidley, who teaches Kinesiology. She teaches in a way that is hands on and meant to be remembered. She will provide us with a short video lecture to watch before class, and then we discuss it and any other topics that come up during class.

How Many Years Have You Been Involved In SAAC?: Three.

Why Did You Choose To Get Involved With SAAC?: I have always loved giving back to the community, and SAAC seemed like a great connection as an athlete to do just that. Plus, I have made some good friends through SAAC who I really enjoy being around.

What Has Been The Most Memorable SAAC Activity?: We put together an athlete welcome night on the first day of school, which consisted of the coaches introducing themselves, a quick speech from our AD Randi, and a bunch of competitive games between each of the teams. It felt like we started to bond as an athletic department, and it created a fun atmosphere around supporting the other teams.

What Have You Learned From Needing To Balance Athletics And Academics?: The most important thing I have learned is that the people you surround yourself with will have a huge impact on how you manage time. Having teammates who care about academics has helped me to continue to do well in class, and stay accountable to my schoolwork. This is also the case in my sport – when we are all focused on getting better together and pushing each other to succeed in practice, it makes the hard work a little easier.

What Does It Mean To You To Be A Division II Student-Athlete?: It means a lot to me because being a collegiate athlete has been a goal of mine for a long time, plus being at the Division II level means there will be solid competition to push myself.

Who Is Your Current Mentor?: WOU Athletic Director Randi Lydum, WOU Track Coaches Octavious Gillespie and Zach Holloway, and WOU Administrators Jasmine Miller and Ed Garland.

What Are Your Future Goals After Graduating?: I want to work in college athletics and help support student athletes. I have enjoyed being involved in SAAC and want to somewhat incorporate that into my career if possible. The experiences I have had at WOU have led me to pursue a career where I can give back to the student athlete population.

What Advice Would You Have For An Incoming Freshman?: Find an area of your life that you genuinely enjoy a figure out a way to get involved by volunteering or giving back to your community through it. For me it was athletics, but there are many other areas of life that are open for involvement. Whatever you do, give it your full effort and you will be surprised how rewarding it will be to others, and yourself.

What’s Your Favorite Sports Memory?: I set a personal best at the GNAC Championships to finish seventh in the javelin in my first year trying the event.

If You Could Spend The Day With One Person, Who Would It Be?: I would probably spend the day with Joe Rogan because I think he is a very interesting person and has met with so many different people because of his podcast. The conversations we’d have would be so unique.

What’s Something People Don’t Know About You?: I used to be able to solve a Rubik's cube in under a minute.