NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – Duquesne women's soccer junior Devon Tabata has been chosen to be the Atlantic 10 Conference’s representative on the NCAA Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC).
She succeeds La Salle swimmer Blase Szyszko, who completed his eligibility after serving as the league’s representative during the 2012-13 season. Tabata will serve a two-year term on the National SAAC.
Tabata, a Finance major with a minor in Information Systems Management plays goalkeeper for the Dukes. Last season she played in 14 games, recording a goals-against average of 1.45, making 95 saves.
Tabata, who has served as one of Duquesne representatives on the Atlantic 10 SAAC, was eager to be chosen to serve on national committee.
“I was filled with excitement [when informed she was selected],” Tabata said. “I had been anxiously texting and bugging my campus SAAC advisor, Sherene [Brantley, Duquesne’s Senior Woman Administrator], once a week asking if she had heard anything about a decision, so getting that email made my entire week.”
The Division I SAAC consists of one student-athlete from each of the 31 Division I conferences and reports directly to the Leadership Council. The mission of the DI SAAC is to enhance the total student-athlete experience by promoting opportunity, protecting student-athlete well-being and fostering a positive student-athlete image.
National SAAC members are selected [from a pool of three nominees from each respective conference by a subcommittee of current Division I SAAC members. The selections then receive final approval by the Division I Administration Cabinet, which is the body that oversees the appointment of members to the NCAA governance structure. Each student-athlete appointed is eligible to serve
s a two-year term.
“I am honored to be selected to represent both Duquesne and the A-10. I'm excited to have the opportunity get to know athletes from all the other DI conferences, and get their insight on how their conference and campus SAACs are organized,” Tabata said. “It's really cool to know that 31 student-athletes are the voice that represents Division I student-athletes across the country.”
Tabata has immersed herself in both the Duquesne and Atlantic 10 SAACs, gaining valuable experience and friendships along the way. She joined SAAC as a freshman, and then took on leadership positions after being inspired by her involvement in the group. As a sophomore, she became an executive member of the Duquesne SAAC and jumped at the opportunity to become involved as one of the Dukes’ representatives on the A-10 SAAC.
She organized campus initiatives, including involvement by the campus SAAC in charitable efforts and community service projects (a canned food drive, a toy drive and a shoe drive). Even though she was busy with soccer and with her involvement in SAAC, she still found time for her academic endeavors, earning a spot in the Dean’s List and Atlantic 10 Commissioner’s Honor Roll each semester. Then last Spring, she was rewarded for her hard work with the Outstanding Student-Athlete of the Year award from Duquesne.
Her experiences taught her that some of the challenges she had faced are common issues across many campuses. After discovering this commonality, she shared it with her fellow Duquesne student-athletes, letting them know they are not alone in any issues they are facing
. She called this “one of the most beneficial parts of joining the larger network of SAAC.” One would expect those same experiences will be even greater on the national level.
Her involvement in the A-10 SAAC, and working with Szyszko, gave her insight into how the Division I SAAC operated, the types of issues it addressed and spurred Tabata to want to get involved at the higher level.
Service on the Division I SAAC involves attending three in-person meetings a year (July, November and January), as well as participating on a number of conference calls throughout the year. Tabata will attend her first official meeting as the A-10 representative on the National SAAC’s July meeting, which is July 23-25 in Indianapolis.
“The people closest to me know how much SAAC means to me. I explained this new position as the "next step" in representing student-athletes,” Tabata said. “Now, I not only get to represent student-athletes at Duquesne, I have the honor and responsibility of representing my entire conference.”