Andrea Ezell is a junior on the volleyball team this fall. She will be president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), which helps give student-athletes a greater voice in the athletic department. Andrea will blog each month to let fans and the public know about what’s going on around the athletic department from the student-athlete’s viewpoint. This month she recaps her trip to the Sun Belt SAAC Meetings last week in New Orleans.
Upon arriving to New Orleans, I was immediately hit with an overwhelming feeling of excitement. I was so excited to meet the other members of SAAC who represent each school in the Sun Belt. But before any business could start, I had to eat some Cajun food, so the first stop was at Mother’s restaurant. This particular restaurant has one of the best shrimp po-boys in all of New Orleans and I could not wait to get my hands on it!
With a full stomach and a grin on my face, I went to check in at Le Pavillon Hotel. The Sun Belt put us all up in one of the most luxurious hotels in the French quarter. It was absolutely breathtaking. My roommate for the night was another volleyball player coming from UALR. It was so nice to get to know someone I will be facing across the net in a couple short weeks, and someone who was just as excited as I was for Georgia State to make an entrance in our new conference.
That day along with the other members of SAAC, I went to a YET clinic; a camp-like environment for under privileged children, a place to keep them off the streets. While there, we all spoke with different groups of girls and boys of different ages, basically explaining to them the importance of school and to give them advice on how they could become a student-athlete. After talking with all the children, we then went outside and did what we know best – played sports! There were kickball games, football games, races, and multiple basketball games being played. The best part of the day was seeing the smiles on these kids’ faces while all of this was going on. It really reminded me that there are people constantly looking up to you as a role model; it made me want to work harder and do better in life instantly.
That evening we all went to the World War II museum in downtown. There, we watched a spectacular 4D movie on WWII, followed by a dinner full of laughs and stories. Any passerby would have thought we had all known each other for years.
Friday was, however, the day I was most looking forward to. Upon arrival at the Superdome, the headquarters of the Sun Belt Conference, we all met with the commissioner of the Sun Belt, Karl Benson. He spoke with us for an hour about the upcoming changes the Sun Belt was looking forward to and explained some possible NCAA changes that could come in the future. It was so nice to hear these things form a man who clearly knew what he was talking about, especially since he took the time out to really explain everything in such detail with us. We then spoke to the Sun Belt’s national NCAA representative and discussed some of the issues that we had all voted on in the previous years and discussed again some ideas and changes that SAAC wanted implemented. The best part of this topic was to hear her discuss how she went to the national conventions and spoke on behalf of things that I voted in the Georgia State Sports Arena. It made me realize even more that my position is very important and the opinion and views of Georgia State really do mean a lot on the larger scale.
Lastly the floor was opened for us all to speak; this was the most exciting part for me. During this time ideas were being thrown all around the table from one school to another. We discussed everything from how to boost SAAC attendance and how to help with player-professor relationships, to what food to serve at meetings. I left that day with pages of notes and ideas. The most exciting thing now for me is to take all of this information back to my SAAC Board and the Executive Board and get the ball rolling on some ideas that I feel will really have a dramatic impact on GSU Athletics.
Finally, this whole experience would not be the same if it wasn’t for the amazing group of people I met while in New Orleans. At first we all seemed to be so different and have very different ideas of why we were there and what our purpose was SAAC members. But we soon felt that we were all on the same page and really began to mesh and collaborate.
I left with so many new friends, and I really cannot wait to be able to go travel now and have people in the stands to cheer me on, just like I will be when they make a trip to the Dirty South during their seasons.