BAKERSFIELD, Calif. Nicola Barrett will begin her second season as President of CSUB’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), however this season she’s adding an additional role, having recently been elected President of the Western Athletic Conference SAAC at the conference meeting in Kansas City.
“I’m very excited, I’m quite an ambitious leader I definitely lead in terms of getting everyone’s opinions,” she said. “It’s nice know that people trust me…I’m very excited to lead a group with the same ambitions.”
Barrett as well as Jack Richey-Luna from men’s swimming were the CSUB delegation to the annual WAC SAAC meeting and helped set the agenda and discuss the initiatives for the entire conference and their SAAC operations this coming season.
“Absolutely unreal experience, meeting everyone and sitting in a room with everyone that is on the same sort of mission as you, has the same passion, the same drive and is all about community service and student-athlete experience in general,” Barrett said. “It was just a really cool experience learning, I’ve been educated about so many things I didn’t know about; also [hearing] ideas of things that we do in SAAC and they do in SAAC and being able to bring that back here.”
It might seem a little odd that Barrett, a senior water polo student-athlete, is President despite the WAC not sponsoring water polo. Barrett however isn’t the first to do so following the lead of former WAC SAAC President and CSUB wrestler Dalton Kelley, who was president of WAC SAAC in 2014-15. Barrett says it really doesn’t matter that she doesn’t compete in the WAC, she’s representing her CSUB family.
“I thought in the beginning I wasn’t going to fit in because I am a water polo player and they don’t have water polo in the WAC but each school seemed to have someone that wasn’t in the WAC…UVU (Utah Valley) sent two wrestlers,” she said. “At the end of the day, when you look a WAC SAAC, it’s not just about the teams and what sports they are, but it’s about the schools in general, I’m representing a family, I’m representing CSUB because that is our ultimate conference, the WAC.”
Some of the initiatives that will be prioritized this year by WAC SAAC include the annual holiday toy drive with each school setting a goal of raising $2,000 in toys or cash for toys this holiday season. It’s a new approach to an initiative that the WAC has been working on for the last several years and inspires competition between the schools.
“Each school has a goal to reach $2,000 so we are going to be looking to reach out to the community through our student-athletes,” Barrett said. “Setting a goal is nice because as athletes we’re all competitive and it leans towards our tastes and what we like to do.”
Barrett says in terms of her role at CSUB this year, the SAAC will have a new look, updating a few positions and responsibilities that were more in line with the mission and goals of SAAC this season. For example, the treasurer position has been replaced with a community liaison position being filled this season by Audrey Willoughby from women’s swimming. She will be responsible for working with athletics development, the CSUB Associated Students (ASI) and other groups on campus to connect student-athletes with their events and initiatives.
School spirit also continues to be at the forefront of SAAC initiatives both in Bakersfield and across the WAC this season. Barrett hopes the Spirit Coordinators on the SAAC board as well as the student-athletes can help build a love for the Roadrunners between each other and the general student body at CSUB.
“We’re bringing the whole community as a school together so they come to our basketball games and we fill up the Icardo again and making sure we have those relationships,” Barrett said. “Athletics is probably the biggest thing that brings school spirit.”
Under Barrett’s leadership, both the WAC SAAC and CSUB SAAC have a renewed energy for the 2016-17 season.
The 2016-17 CSUB SAAC leadership team can be found here.