SAAC Spotlight: UAF's Ainsley Smith
After growing up as a fan of Alaska volleyball in Fairbanks, Ainsley Smith will have an opportunity to compete for the Nanooks next season after redshirting this year.
After growing up as a fan of Alaska volleyball in Fairbanks, Ainsley Smith will have an opportunity to compete for the Nanooks next season after redshirting this year.

Friday, April 1, 2022

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: Ainsley Smith
Sport: Women’s Volleyball
Institution: University of Alaska Fairbanks
Year: Freshman
Major: Undeclared
Hometown: Fairbanks, Alaska

Why Did You Choose To Attend UAF?: I really enjoyed the team and the coaches for volleyball. They were super supportive and created a good atmosphere for the volleyball program. I was also able to get a good number of scholarships to help pay for school. Being from Fairbanks, I know this community and how supportive they are of UAF and I wanted to be a part of that.

What Is Your Favorite College Class And Why?: My Introduction to Business class was my favorite class because the professor was accommodating for student-athletes and she taught the material in an effective way.

Who Is Your Favorite Professor?: Amy Cooper. She always wanted to support the athletes in her class and around campus. She would always make sure that her students understood the material and would take the time to go over it, and she always made herself available.

How Many Years Have You Been Involved In SAAC?: This is my first year.

Why Did You Choose To Get Involved With SAAC?: I wanted to become more involved within athletics because COVID has made it harder to become more connected between the athletic programs. I wanted to see people's different points of view and where they wanted to take UAF athletics.

What Has Been The Most Memorable SAAC Activity?: The Teddy Bear Toss (at a hockey game) was the most memorable because not only the members of SAAC were involved, but people from teams that weren't members came as well as people from the community to help collect the bears.

How Do You Feel Participating In SAAC Will Help You After You Graduate?: It will help me to become a better leader and organizer.

If You Could Change One NCAA Rule, What Would It Be?: I would like the rule about prohibiting jewelry to be worn during games to be changed because both competitive teams and Olympic teams wear jewelry when they play.

What Have You Learned From Needing To Balance Athletics And Academics?: Allowing yourself to have rest days and times to relax is super important I have discovered. You will become burned out by the constant grind of balancing both athletics and academics so taking some time for yourself in between helps to move forward and tackle those things head-on later.

What Is The Biggest Obstacle You Have Overcome During Your Collegiate Career?: Learning how to let go of mistakes that I make during practice. I am a perfectionist so this task is a constant struggle for me.

What Does It Mean To You To Be A Division II Student-Athlete?: I have the opportunity to represent myself as a student-athlete and person to the community. I have the opportunity to give back to my community and to help bring awareness to it.

Who Is Your Current Mentor?: Cate Whiting, a former teammate and current graduate assistant coach, is my biggest mentor. Being from Fairbanks, I watched her play and didn't think that I would get the chance to learn from her and build relationships with her. Another mentor was my former teammate AveRee Reynolds. She was a fifth-year along with Cate and she was able to help me become a better teammate and person. She was honest with me about everything and pushed me to become better.

What Are Your Future Goals After Graduating?: The obvious goals are to have a family, a stable job, and a home, but I honestly do not know where I will be going after that. I am leaving that up to God to see where that takes me.

What Advice Would You Have For An Incoming Freshman?: Surround yourself with good people who push you to become a better person.

What’s Your Favorite Thing About Being Part Of The GNAC?: The level of competition in the conference between the teams.

What’s Your Favorite Sports Memory?: We beat our in-state rival on our home court and everyone in the gym went crazy. Our seniors were crying and everyone was laughing. We went into the locker room and our coaches came in dancing and screaming.

If You Could Spend The Day With One Person, Who Would It Be?: Tom Holland as Spider-Man because I want to use the web shooters and hang out with him.

Favorite Sports Team: University of Michigan athletic programs, in general.

Favorite Athlete: Tom Brady

Extracurricular Activities: Volunteer coach for Inspire Volleyball Club, Fellowship of Christian Athletes member

What’s Something People Don’t Know About You?: I cannot touch my toes.