Making Wishes Come True

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Hello Peach Belt Conference! We’ve wrapped up the semester. As some of us are finally catching our breath from the long hours put into finals week, some are preparing to conquer theirs. Nonetheless, finishing strong. I would like to take a moment to congratulate those who have left their mark on each athletic program within the Peach Belt Conference as they graduate and continue on their journey of fulfilling career goals and much more.

As I reflect back on the past semester, I cannot find enough words to express the gratefulness and excitement I have felt. From being appointed to represent our great conference at the national level to taking part in one of the most unforgettable Make A Wish experiences to cross my home campus, I would like to thank all those who have been instrumental in this journey.

So let me take a moment to reflect with you.

March 28th marks a special day for me as I participated in my University of North Georgia’s first “Nigel the Nighthawk’s Walk of Superheroes.” Like many of our campus student athletic advisory committees can relate to, it was one night that took weeks to plan, followed by a wish reveal the day after. Make A Wish is something many campuses across the nation hold close to their hearts, because they see the impact they are making in these children’s lives. When you see something come together and unveil before your eyes, just stop. Take a moment, look around, and soak up the atmosphere. Be in that moment. That evening I witnessed before my eyes, community members, families, children, student athletes, coaches, trainers, and more come together for a common purpose. Something in their hearts compelled them to meet on that evening in March to walk a mile in their best super hero costume, to support a child’s wish come true. As music played, the band marched, and people gathered to capture the moment with the lens of their camera, I couldn’t help but smile. Being able to shake the hands of our prior Wish recipients and share in the joy of one evening that has the potential to make a difference will by far be one of the most rewarding experiences. In these moments, we find our “Why”.

People ask you why of our actions, our choices, and our goals. I encourage you, if you have not found a “why” behind your character, your personal choices, and future goals, to reflect on that. Why are you pushing yourself? Why are you spending your time here and there?

I take a moment to brag on our student athletes, as they give their time selflessly to experiences such as the one I described above. Time is a precious thing, and as a Division II athlete most of us know, time is something hard to come by. Long hours detected to a chosen pathway to gain a career, time to our training as we push boundaries of our physical abilities, and time from our hearts to make the difference in our community, campus, and collectively at a National Level. Making a difference and truly “Making it Yours”!

Additionally, as a member of Division II National Student Athletic Advisory Committee, I get the opportunity to attend meetings throughout the year across the country, speak to wonderful people and express student athlete concerns. This past April, I attended my first National SAAC meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana. Among many firsts on the trip, I also flew for the first time. I hope you enjoyed following my trip on snapchat! Going miles away from home, with people I had never met, and holding huge responsibilities that I have yet to fully understand is a little intimidating. I would be lying if I told you I was not nervous. What had I gotten myself in to? The question quickly evaporated from my mind as I found a home behind my nameplate in a room of student athletes alike. The weekend consisted of NCAA representatives of various committees coming forth with their information, their questions, and their attempts at getting valuable feedback from the pool of representatives from across our country. I’ve never felt more at home with a group of people in my life. Fulfilling a purpose and advocating for not only our current student athletes across Division II institutions, but the future of our youth on their journey in their passion for sports. While I have found a new love for legislative proposals, I also experienced seeing the Hall of Champions at the NCAA headquarters. I stood before a silhouette of a rifle athlete, with facts and figures placed in elegant lines, descriptive of my sport to those who found themselves passing by with curious eyes and interest. Being in a room full of competitive superiority, I found a profound feeling of giddiness. Athletes before me, and athletes after me, accomplishing more and more. I get to be a part of that. I’m excited to meet welcoming faces again in July, as we meet collectively again in our effort to make some very exciting things happen for Division II. Keep your eyes open. Coming away from that weekend I have found a new confidence in our potential as a conference and a division. I encourage our student athletes to come to me with their questions, concerns, or ideas. We make the difference, and it starts with you. Get involved with your campus SAAC! Ask yourself this, how can you play an instrumental role in a bigger picture?

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