Julia Feld / Winonan
Winona State University’s recent Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) event “Step Out of Stigma Week” was recognized by the NCAA DII with a $1,000 grant to continue work for future community engagements. Associate Athletic Director and Winona State SAAC Advisor Myranda Nash explained each year the committee can submit for the Award of Excellence, and of the 25 finalists conference-wide, Winona State finished third.
Each year award applicants must select a cause to promote and hold events on campus of their university or college, Nash said.
“Every conference school had to provide a panel, but we knew we wanted to make it a little bigger than just a panel that week,” Nash said.
Winona State’s SAAC decided to make a week out of the event and hosted four days during Mental Health Awareness Week in October with different activities pertaining to mental health awareness. The events ranged from decorating pinwheels and making trail mix on Monday to a Student-athlete panel on Tuesday, relaxation time with Winston the therapy dog on Wednesday and finally “Stomp out Stigma” day on Thursday at the gazebo, where the sidewalks were decorated with chalk.
The week was chaired by senior baseball player and Mike Hommes, Nash said.
“It’s the first time we’ve done this and he just went all out with it and did a fantastic job,” Nash said.
While the details are not yet finalized, the SAAC is currently working toward their next goal and award competition. Nash said the group is in the middle of an initiative called “Warrior Cleats for Deserving Feet.”
Soccer and football players brought forth the idea, and the SAAC is looking to partner with the local YMCA to donate the cleats and provide a clinic for the kids. Cleats are being collected now, and Nash said the committee is aiming to make the donation in April.
Nash said she is confident the SAAC can coordinate another successful project.
“I think it’s an awesome program,” Nash said. “It’s homegrown from our student-athletes; it’s their idea and they’re passionate about helping our local community.”
By Julia Feld