By: Evelyn DeVaux, NECC Student Specialist
As a member of the field hockey team at Elms College, where I also serve as the Vice President of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), I thought I would be prepared for my experience at the 2020 NCAA Convention, held in Anaheim, California. As I arrived at the Anaheim Convention Center, I felt anything but prepared. It was surreal seeing the NCAA logo posted all over the doors and windows of the building. To be there as a student-athlete representing the NECC and Elms felt like an enormous responsibility.
As a student-athlete, I have never realized how much time, effort and people go into making the NCAA operate efficiently. I have only considered it to be the association we represent from within each of our schools, and the governing body of the rules and regulations we must follow. The NECC SAAC President, Bay Path University soccer and lacrosse player Josephine Orrick, also had the chance to attend and was impressed by getting a first hand look at the inner workings of the NCAA. Orrick noted that there is a lot more decision making that goes into legislation and rule changes behind the scenes than it appears. “Overall it was an amazing opportunity and it made me proud to be a Division III student athlete,” stated Orrick.
Through this experience, I was able to make connections with fellow student-athletes, athletic directors, and SAAC representatives from institutions all over the country. I was able to meet and introduce myself to the Managing Director for Division III, Louise McCleary, who is also a former Elms College athletic director. It was truly inspiring seeing someone who worked at the institution I currently attend, hold such importance in Division III athletics. Becker College senior Michael McMahon was also inspired being in the presence of so many who have had incredible impact on collegiate athletics. “The ability to see, meet, interact, and hear from so many well-known sports figures, established higher education leaders, and amazingly intelligent, and successful student-athletes is most certainly a privilege, and was definitely eye opening,” said McMahon, “Interacting with these individuals on a daily basis for a week gave me valuable insights inside the world of athletics, higher education, and life in general.”
McMahon, a senior baseball player and SAAC President at Becker represents the NECC as a member of National SAAC, with whom we had the privilege of connecting with throughout the week. We were able to discuss our own success within each of our communities, as well as gain new insight from National SAAC on how to implement new initiatives within our own departments and campuses, such as sustainability.
We worked closely with national SAAC throughout the convention, including participating alongside them in an event with the Special Olympics of Southern California. McMahon found this event to be the most fulfilling. “I very much enjoy being able to volunteer with Special Olympics events,” said McMahon, “and being able to interact with the athletes and see the smiles and joy it brought to their faces was truly priceless.” Orrick also found that working alongside fellow SAAC representatives in the Special Olympics event was a highlight. “Being able to connect with other student-athletes from across the country through the Special Olympics and the student social was my favorite part. It made me see that we are a part of a huge network of student-athletes at the Division III level.”
Tyler Hesselton, a member of the men’s soccer team at Elms College, also enjoyed the social aspect of the convention, stating, “I had an amazing time with the other representatives from my conference. My knowledge of the NCAA and NECC has grown and I have gained friendships through this opportunity.”
One of the overall highlights of my week was watching the NCAA President, Mark Emmert, present the Pat Summit Award to the late Athletic Director and Vice Chancellor at Vanderbilt, David Williams II. I remember watching the documentary 30 for 30, “Nine for IX: Pat XO” when it was aired on ESPN as a freshman in high school, and absolutely idolized her. Her legacy still empowers women in sports, and to witness the award being presented left me speechless.
I am so grateful for this amazing opportunity and to the NECC conference commissioner and assistant commissioner, Jacob VanRyn and Lindsay Colbert, as well as Elms Athletic Director Micheal Theulen and the other conference athletic directors for making it possible. The convention was more than just a fun experience for myself and the five other NECC student-athletes that attended, which also included Andrew Medeiros from Lesley University, and TJ Nong of New England College. It was informative and opened our eyes to the possibilities there are within collegiate athletics. It grew our appreciation and understanding of all that is done to make college athletics what it is today and how the future is shaped.
ABOUT THE NECC
The NECC began competition in the 2008-09 academic year and current member institutions compete across 15 sports. The NECC membership focuses on providing athletic competition among institutions that share similar academic aspirations and are committed to the importance of the total educational experience for students engaged in sports. Current members include Bay Path University, Becker College, Dean College, Eastern Nazarene College, Elms College, Lesley University, Mitchell College and New England College.