My name is Jacqui Kalin and I am the SAAC Co-President at the University of Northern Iowa. This past July I traveled to St. Louis for a Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) SAAC meeting and met SAAC members from each Valley school. It was so much fun to get to spend time with student athletes from other schools and to create one voice on many issues.

Every summer when we get together for the meeting we take time out of one of the days to do a community service project with the Special Olympics. This summer we attended the Special Olympics District Softball Games. We went there with the understanding that we would serve as “cheerleaders,” interact with the Special Olympics athletes as much as we could, and help run the event. When we arrived we found out that one of the teams could not come anymore, so we formed our very own MVC team to fill in for them. I have to admit, these Special Olympics athletes were not messing around! They were very good and discovered a lot of our weaknesses (we found out we all better stick to our own sports). Even though they kicked our butts, both teams had a great time and we were glad to have the opportunity to fill in for one of the missing teams.

While community service only takes a small portion of the day, it can make such a big difference. The athletes at the Special Olympics were appreciative that we were there and we loved their company. As student-athletes, we are role models and it’s important we don’t forget the impact we can have on others through community service. I encourage you to get involved in your community, and the Special Olympics are a great place to start.

Good luck to all of you throughout this year both in school and in your sport!
Jacqui Kalin
University of Northern Iowa
Women’s Basketball