BIRMINGHAM- Five student-athletes from Vanderbilt athletics represented the Commodores at joint meetings of the Southeastern Conference student-athlete leadership councils and the student-athlete advisory committee (SAAC) at the SEC offices July 6-7.
Cierra Walker from the women's basketball team and Matt Ryan from the men's basketball team were in attendance as well as football representative Khari Blasingame. Fernanda Contreras from tennis and Mary Beckwith from swimming represented the Commodore SAAC.
Meeting attendees included 65 total SEC student-athletes from all 14 member institutions. This weekend marks the second joint meeting of these groups since they were introduced by Commissioner Greg Sankey in 2016.
Matt Ryan, who serves on the SEC men's basketball leadership council, saw the weekend as a great way to improve individually.
"I didn't know what to expect, but I left feeling more equipped with confidence and skills to become a better person, which will help me become a better leader in my life," said Ryan. "There were a couple of powerful speakers who were full of energy and insight that made a huge impact on me at the council. One thing I'll take away from the council is always be searching for ways to improve individually in order to be better prepared to help others when situations arise in which others are seeking leadership."
Leadership councils for the sports of football and men's and women's basketball, along with the Conference's longstanding Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, provide opportunities to engage with campus leaders and conference office staff.
Women's tennis player, Contreras enjoyed meeting other student-athletes from around the conference.
"It was really cool and insightful to attend the SEC meetings since we got to meet different athletes from all around the conference and listen to their perspectives and their lives," said Contreras. "It's so interesting to get to know them on a personal level apart from the field, court, track, etc. It puts more value on representing this arduous conference and made me even more proud of wearing the star V."
Blasingame appreciated the opportunity to represent Commodore student-athletes at the conference. "This weekend at SEC meetings was great. We got the opportunity to hear from two great speakers, Rachel Baribeau and Galen Duncan. They both poured into us so now each person from their respective teams and pour into their teammates. Also got a chance to hear about the events and programs that other schools Leadership committees are putting on to enrich the experience of their communities and their athletes. Overall it was a really great weekend."
The two-day meeting included presentations by ESPNU SiriusXM radio host Rachel Baribeau and Dr. Galen Duncan of the Sacramento Kings, in addition to discussion on SEC & NCAA approved legislation for 2018-19, campus SAAC programming ideas, and student-athlete engagement opportunities in the SEC.