Hi, my name is Carolyn Boyd, I am a softball student-athlete from Stetson University, and I represent the student-athletes of the Atlantic Sun Conference. That is the 100th time I have said that this week! Going into my first NCAA Division I National SAAC meeting, I was told to “sit back and take everything in,” but anyone who knows me knows that’s a challenge. I’m the kid in class who asks the questions, and that didn’t change much in our National DI SAAC meetings. I had no idea what to expect or what I had gotten myself into, but I found myself surrounded by an incredible group of student-athletes who share the same passions that I do. It was one of the coolest feelings ever, and I’m still in awe about the whole experience.

Things started Friday morning and continued through Saturday and Sunday. Each day, National DI SAAC’ers who serve on NCAA Cabinets and Committees reported back to the group any important information that was discussed in their last meetings. Also, a handful of guest speakers paid us a visit as the weekend progressed. Here are some things I found interesting (and I hope you do too!):

·   Qualifier vs. Non-qualifiers out of high school: Did you know that if a non-qualifier goes to a junior college before a Division I institution, he or she must meet different requirements than a qualifier does in order to be eligible?

·   The Awards, Benefits, Expenses and Financial Aid Cabinet is working to exempt need-based aid from counting towards a team’s financial aid limit, which includes athletic scholarships as well as federal and academic financial aid rewards.

·   There is a Title IX coordinator at every school (that’s something I didn’t know!).

·   The NCAA just signed a new contract with Turner and CBS Sports for $775 million a year, but you want to know the cool thing about it? That money goes back into the NCAA to be divided amongst its member institutions. Ever heard of the Student Athlete Opportunity Fund?

·   The Faculty Athletics Representative (FAR) is meant to serve as a liaison between the institution and the athletic department. There’s one on every campus!

·   Matt Horn (the Big South National SAAC rep) told us about an awesome service organization called Samaritan’s Feet. It is a humanitarian relief organization that puts shoes on the feet of children in 50 countries all over the world. Check it out at www.samaritansfeet.org .

We discussed so many issues, but from what I understand, it was nothing compared to what we will face in our next meeting in November!

We did get a break from Grand Ballroom IV on Friday afternoon, where we really got to dig in and use our hands—literally. All the NCAA SAACs (Divisions I, II and III) came together and did a community service project. We got the chance to get to know a larger group of NCAA athletes while we pulled weeds at the White River State Park (Indiana’s only urban state park!). Following the park clean up, we competed against the Division II and Division III in a friendly game of kickball.

My first National Division I SAAC experience was definitely eye-opening. It is extremely humbling to be part of such an amazing group of people that only come together for one purpose: to speak on behalf of all 160,000 NCAA Division I student-athletes. I can see this experience is going to change my life, and I’m ready to jump right in.

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