Friday, August 14, 2009

Q&A with Jacksonville's Danielle Gray

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Danielle Gray, who is enter her senior season as a center with the JU women's basketball team, made her first appearance as the Atlantic Sun Conference SAAC Representative in Denver, Colo. over the summer. She recently sat down to answer some questions about the conference and her new position...

Q:How did you first get involved with SAAC on campus?
My former JU women's basketball teammate DaVina Hamilton told me about the group and asked me to join her at some of the meetings on campus. From my first meeting with Matt Dobbins and Louisa Ward leading the committee, I knew this was a place my voice would be heard and would be able to possibly change things off the court.
As the A-Sun's representative to the National SAAC, what are your responsibilities?
I am the voice between the National SAAC and the Atlantic Sun Conference SAAC. Therefore, I make sure that all parties know what is going on with each other and I also collect my conference's opinion and stance on certain issues and legislation so that the National SAAC can develop a full student-athlete position on issues and legislations.

How does the Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee work as part of the NCAA?
We offer the NCAA insight about how different issues will effect student-athletes and their well-being. With our voice, we are able to influence the NCAA and offer a perspective from the people that make up the NCAA, the student-athletes.

How does it feel to continue the tradition of a JU student-athlete representing the A-Sun after Becky Watt (rowing) and Matt Dobbins (baseball)?
It is definitely an honor because it's rare that three consecutive representatives would be elected from the same school, but it goes to show how much other A- Sun student-athletes respect Jacksonville University and our JU SAAC. I am so honored to be mentioned with such leaders as Becky and Matt, and that pushes me that much more to be a great representative for both the A-Sun and JU.

What was the best advice that you received after being selected for the position?
The best advice probably came from Matt Dobbins when I told him I was nervous about taking on such an important role. He told me to relax because the people I would meet would be unbelievable and that was definitely the truth. I have met the most amazing group of people in this position and felt comfortable with them in the short time I have known them.

Describe your experience at the recent national SAAC meeting in Denver.
It was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had in my life because I was surrounded by so many committed, smart and outgoing student-athletes speaking about important issues that were heard by the NCAA. These people were students that know how to be professional and know how to have fun at the same time. The meeting also showed me that there are no limits to how far I can go and I learned things that will impact me forever.

What are some of the "hot topics" in the NCAA right now that you discussed at your national meeting?
Some of the 'hot topics' are the changes in the economy and all of the cost-containment policies going on in the NCAA. We learned of things that are beginning to be cut and the changes made by the athletic departments.

What community service project did this year's national SAAC participate in?
This summer we worked with two Special Olympic softball teams with their hitting, throwing and fielding. It was really exciting because after working with them at different stations, we cheered them on as they played against each other in a game. It is always a humbling experience to do community service because you realize how much we take for granted. There are tasks we do every day that are not as easy to someone else.

Rumor has it that the Division I SAAC lost the annual kickball tournament to DII/DIII. Is this true, and, if so, how are you preparing for next year?
Let me clear this up. Our Division I team beat the DII squad in the kickball tournament before the DIII team beat the DII team. When we played the DIII team, the winner was never settled. We lost with some key errors in the last few minutes of the game, but next year we are going to be more focused because we have to let DII and DIII know who's boss.

How can JU fans stay abreast of what's happening in the JU, A-Sun and national SAAC?
The National SAAC has a twitter account at "National SAAC" and and they also have a blog for our national SAAC Speaks newsletter ( The Atlantic Sun has a SAAC page on their website as well ( and JU SAAC also has a twitter account, "JU_SAAC."

Thanks to for the photo.

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