Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Building Leadership and Team Spirit

Building Leadership and Team Spirit
OWAC initiates ‘Red Alert’ games

It could be someone sitting beside you in chemistry, or the person buying lunch behind you in the campus center, or your roommate and best friend—wherever you look, Ohio Wesleyan is full of student-athletes, and they are making their marks on OWU. Over the past couple of years, the Ohio Wesleyan Athletic Council (OWAC) has become an increasingly present group on campus, working to promote student-athletes and helping to improve their relationship with the OWU and Delaware communities.

OWAC is Ohio Wesleyan’s name for the NCAA sponsored Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). According to Julie Duffy, OWAC Advisor, all NCAA sponsored schools are required to have a SAAC on their campus. Representatives of each OWU sport are included on OWAC, and students have the opportunity to participate both on OWU’s campus and beyond at the conference level.

This year, OWAC is focusing on gaining support and public presence within the campus and Delaware communities. To do so, they have initiated “Red Alert” games to encourage more fan support at games.

“Every team picks one game in the season that is a ‘Red Alert’ game,” explains Duffy. “All athletes that aren’t in practice or competing themselves go to these games to give their fellow student-athletes the support they need.” A Facebook page titled 22 Sports, 1 Team, Team OWU has been created to give students frequent updates on OWU athletics and “Red Alert” games, and t-shirts have also been made to promote the events.

OWAC is also making a name for itself through community service, such as the local Special Olympics Bishop Games that it hosted last spring on campus. At this event, almost 100 special needs athletes competed in track and field events, drawing community and campus members together as 50 OWU student-athletes helped to run and support the event.

For Duffy, OWAC is an important tool to support student-athletes and engage the rest of campus with the exciting athletic program at OWU. “I think we often forget that we have about 500 student athletes on this campus that blend in every day with the regular students, but they put in hours of extra commitment to the athletic department and their own program. This group helps promote what the student-athletes do on and off campus and they bring the needs of the student-athlete to the athletic department’s attention and to the attention of everyone else on campus,” she says.

Student-athletes involved in OWAC also consider it to be very valuable to Ohio Wesleyan. For many, it is the chance to make a difference and increase their impact as athletes and leaders on campus. Rachel Seibel ’10, a member of OWAC’s Drug and Alcohol Policy Committee, enjoys shaping important decisions through involvement with OWAC.

“I think athletics are a huge part of Ohio Wesleyan, and we have the ability to lead both on and off the court/field,” she comments. “On the Drug and Alcohol Policy Committee, we want to stress that students know that athletics are a privilege instead of something that is just given to them. As members of OWAC, we are able to voice our opinions to the head committee in charge of the policy.

Erica Lowell ’11 agrees, saying that OWAC is “a great opportunity to get connected with the community of Delaware and give back.” Indeed, the members of OWAC seem most motivated by the chance to bring positive change to Ohio Wesleyan. As Pam Quigney ’11 puts it, “We can be leaders on campus by the sports that we play.”

– Amanda Zechiel, Ohio Wesleyan ’09

Photo credit: Lynn Albers, Ohio Wesleyan ’08

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