Check out the latest in our feature series, "Making an Impact".
Each week we'll look at a moment, personality, organization or tradition that makes Texas A&M Athletics and those support it and compete for it so special.
through events like Aggies CAN and Movie at the Mound,
Janell Lysack and the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee help Aggie athletes
give back to the community which gives so much to them
Senior women's golfer Janell Lysack is president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, an organization dedicated to helping foster community service opportunities for those who compete for Texas A&M Athletics. She recently sat down with aggieathletics.com to give fans an idea of what SAAC is all about and what the organization puts on throughout the academic year.
Tell us about your involvement on campus…
“I am a part of SAAC, which stands for ‘Student-Athlete Advisory Committee’. We were founded by Dr. John Thornton back in the late 1990s/early 2000s. A lot of the Division I and Division II schools have this organization. It’s basically student government for the student-athletes. It encompasses student-athlete welfare, legislation, community service events and other things all aimed toward the student-athlete community. It’s not that we can’t be part of the student government on the main campus--but with our crazy schedules, having our own organization allows for a more flexible opportunity. We understand the time commitments and the restraints.”
What is the history of SAAC? What do you do?
“Every month we have at least two community service opportunities. We get emails to take part in many more, but with student-athlete’s schedules we can’t fulfill them all. We have two big events that we put on each year. One is Aggies CAN in the fall. That takes place at football, soccer and volleyball games. It is a two-day event taking place at those three sporting events. It is the largest student-athlete run canned food drive (in the country). It was started in the early 2000s by SAAC and a group of student-athletes that just wanted to give back to the community. We collect monetary and canned good donations for the Brazos Valley Food Bank. This past fall, we collected over $32,000 and over 12,000 pounds of cans for the food bank. That is solely student-athlete run with student-athlete volunteers. All of it is put on by student-athletes, with the help of one or two volunteers who guide us. I have been able to play a part in that the past four years, and I have gotten to run it the past two years. It was an awesome opportunity to see, behind the scenes, how far student-athletes can push their schedules and still perform athletically, academically and also serve the community.
“Our other major event is coming up soon. It is commonly known as ‘Film on the Field’ but, with the Kyle Field construction, it will be called ‘Movie at the Mound’ this year. This is an event that we put on for the community and the 12th Man to show our appreciation. Admission is free and we will be showing ‘The Rookie’ on April 6 after the baseball game against Alabama. It will be shown on the brand-new video board at Blue Bell Park.
“We also take part in smaller events, like the physics festival. We did Hard Hats for Little Heads two weeks ago, in which we brought over 3,000 second-graders (to campus) and taught them about helmet safety. There are so many things that student-athletes find time in which to take part on the weekends.”
When did you join SAAC? What drew you to the organization?
“I joined my freshman year. I was looking for a way to get involved while still being a student-athlete. As much as people tell you, ‘You can’t do it. Your coaches want you focused’, all the coaches are completely on board with this organization. Everybody is completely committed to helping this organization survive and strive. I wanted to get involved. I saw that they met on Wednesdays and there was a lot of laughter. I went into the room and started joining them every other Wednesday. Since then, I have done public relations through the committee since my sophomore year. I really enjoyed being able to be the voice for them. I skipped the vice president position and had the opportunity to be the president for the past two years.”
What are your main goals for SAAC?
“A few things I would like would be more growth on campus between us and the rest of the student body and student organizations. We have created great relationships over the past few years with the student body presidents, the Greek Life and RHA, among other organizations. We would like those relationships to continue to foster. We would also like participation in Aggies CAN and Film on the Field to increase.”
To learn more about SAAC, visit them online at saac.tamu.edu.