SAAC plans events for rest of semester despite COVID

This year has been quite a virtual one for the athletic department. The Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, known as SAAC, has worked hard to create events for the Johnson campus for all students.
“Most of the challenges we have faced this year are setting up events due to the pandemic,” said Annika Dyhrberg, president of SAAC. “Everything revolves around maintaining safe distances and numbers while creating engaging programming. Although it’s now become a common practice, it is still an important consideration and has forced some creative thinking.”
SAAC is made up of student-athlete representatives from all of Johnson’s teams. The committee meets once a week to discuss events, news from the athletic departments, SAAC Saturday events, and more.
SAAC typically runs Kids Night Out, an event in which local kids in the surrounding community spend a few hours in the gym playing recreation sports. This is a big event that had happened on the first Friday of every month involving all student-athletes. Unfortunately, current conditions forced its cancellation for the entire year.
“COVID restrictions have also made it so we cannot hold our monthly Kids Night Out event,” Dyhrberg said. “Community members are not permitted on campus and the distancing challenges would be too complicated with so many student-athletes and children involved. That is something I am missing personally, and I am sure parents are as well.”
Last spring, SAAC representatives, alongside advisor Michele Whitmore, had to quickly adjust to online events when the campus shut down.
SAAC held trivia nights, Discord game nights, and an iMessage game tournament. The committee had to brainstorm ideas to create a virtual athletic banquet and is currently working on ideas for this May.
“This year on our campus we have worked specifically hard to ensure that students have opportunities to gather both in-person and remotely for non-academic programming,” Dyhrberg said. “This has been mainly through our implementation of ‘SAAC Saturdays.’ Each Saturday, we create an event for our students like movie nights, trivia, arts and crafts, bowling, sledding, and much more.”
So far, SAAC has hosted four events including a town hall that gave students an introduction to who the committee is and what it does.
At the end of March, the committee will host its first food drive of the semester. This event has been very successful in the past, and this semester, there will be two.
The Turkey Trot will be the last event hosted by SAAC Vice President Sheldon Billings in early May after it was canceled in the fall.
Dyhrberg is also the president of the North Atlantic Conference SAAC. She has worked with her committee to bring a conference-wide event for student-athletes. This year’s event is a virtual talk with Victoria Garrick, a former Division I athlete who is an advocate for student-athlete mental health.
“As NAC SAAC president I hope to begin a conference-wide conversation about mental health,” said Dyhrberg. “I also want to continue our diversity and inclusion work. Within our Johnson SAAC, I hope to give our graduating athletes a warm sendoff and continue to provide programming for all Johnson students, and set the next group of leaders up for success so we can keep moving forward as a community.”
There is still time to participate in SAAC Saturdays. See SAAC Instagram for more details.