Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A-Sun NCAA SAAC Rep Katie DiGirolamo Report: BUSY!!

A-Sun National SAAC Representative Katie DiGirolamo from Stetson is attending the SAAC national meetings at the NCAA headquarters this week and will be providing daily updates from the meetings.

Thursday, July 25, 2013
It’s hard to believe I’m already writing about the third day! This has been yet another amazing summer meeting and I couldn’t have asked for better people to spend it with or better liaisons to organize it.

We started off the morning with a bang. We welcomed all NCAA staff and employees arriving at work with a slow-clap, cheers, chants, high gives and funny skits. Please just image 31 student-athletes (all dressed in jeans and our new swag t-shirts) enthusiastically greeting every individual that walked through the front door of the headquarters, even at 7:30 in the morning. There was a reason to our madness: we were collecting donations for our partnered charity of choice, Samaritan’s Feet.

Employees were informed a few days before that if they wanted to wear jeans, they could donate at least $5 to our cause. For the hour and a half we did this, we raised over $1000 which means about 65 new pairs of shoes can be shipped to those in need, anywhere in the world! If you want to learn more about Samaritan’s Feet, please feel free to visit . We also hoped to brighten a few mornings in the process.

We were fortunate enough to greet Mark Emmert (President of the NCAA) with a personal handshake and introduction, which is pretty fantastic if you ask me. Off the record, President Emmert has been awesome about visiting and updating SAAC each meeting. He’s very supportive of our cause and whole-heartedly puts the student-athlete first.

We concluded our meeting with a follow up from the Institutional Performance Program, our plans for the SAAC’s 25th Anniversary at convention, brain-storming website ideas, and miscellaneous business. Then comes the worst part: having to say goodbye to our D1 SAAC Family, just trying to stay positive about our November meeting being only 4 months away. Thirty one hugs later, I am now writing this blog about 30,000 miles high.

Thank you to everyone who has spent the time reading my blog of the summer National Student-Athlete Advisory Council meeting. If you have any questions about SAAC or my experience, feel free to e-mail me at

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

It’s been another long day of long meetings, guest speakers, and National SAAC business, but a great one, none the less. We started off the early morning with a visit from Jackie Campbell with Governance and Matt Brewer with Academic and Membership Affairs. It was really cool to be engaged in intelligent discussion regarding the governance process and the institutional performance program. We basically focused on issues regarding the student-athlete experience: health and safety, life skills, facilities tour, etc.

The nitty-gritty details and updates of legislative proposals from Bylaw 11, 13, 15 and 17 were then discussed…. And some of them at length. Honestly, we could probably go on for hours on some of the proposals, engaging in good discussion, brain-storming new ideas, and posing challenging questions. What can I say, it’s something all us nerds are passionate about ;).

Another great opportunity offered in National SAAC is being able to serve on a cabinet or committee within the membership. Some examples of these committees include the Amateurism Cabinet, Championships Cabinet, Academic Cabinet, and the Rules Working Group. Whenever they meet at the headquarters for meetings or teleconferences, the National SAAC representative is always invited. We took the time to update the group on 17 cabinets and committees and even provided feedback on certain issues. I am fortunate to be appointed to serve on the Awards, Benefits, Expenses and Financial Aid Cabinet with my first meeting in September.

If the meetings haven’t been long enough, we were still excited to hear from a Faculty Athletic Representative Association liaison, Christine Cooper from the US Naval Academy. Moral of the story - if you don’t know your FAR at your institution, you should get to because they can be super resourceful!

Victor Hill from the Championships Community Programs and Youth Clinics provided a social responsibility presentation centering on education, service, and legacy. Its mission is to teach social responsibility through service-learning and merge what’s important to both student-athletes and communities. The NCAA recognizes community service as an important aspect of being a student-athlete, and how big of an impact we can really make!

We finally get to break-out in to our SAAC Project Teams, and I lead my recently grown committee of 17 outside to talk about this newsletter. We’re super excited about its potential and growth, so athletes, be on the lookout from your SAAC to read the new and improved newsletter!

The NCAA business meetings may be done, but we still had a fully scheduled evening. We learned how to be proper during a 2 hour business etiquette dinner with Division III… which was a great learning experience, but honestly kind of difficult and a ton to remember! Good thing we were taking notes, because these life skills are extremely beneficial!

Our competitive sides break out when we play a Division I vs. Division III kickball game outside the headquarters to end the day. It was probably the most competitive kickball game I’ve ever been a part of, and DI ended up coming back to win 8-7 in the 7th. In the 3rd inning, the sprinklers came on, and made for a slippery and even more entertaining experience.

Finally, be sure to follow us on twitter, @Div1SAAC, to view the crazy fun pictures and updates from the kickball game and meetings!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Day 1 of the National SAAC meeting is in the books! As always, it was great to be reunited with the old members and meet the new. There is never a dull moment as we moved through executive team meetings, new member orientation, and a list of awesome guest speakers who updated us on current NCAA happenings.

However, I have a quick disclaimer: we have something called the Vegas Rule, basically saying what is said here, stays here. But here’s a review of our day and looking forward to exploring Indy tonight and a full day of meetings tomorrow!

Derek Crawford and Laura Wurtz from the National Office Enforcement staff came to talk about their roles in development, investigating, and processing. We refreshed on the new enforcement working group recommendations (that go in to affect next week) which includes a multi-level violation structure, process enhancement and expediency, a matrix penalty structure, and addressing the accountability of team leadership.

Throughout processing cases and a considerable amount of media attention, it’s refreshing to see the enforcement counsel stick together in a sustainable working environment, and have faith in the good people working within. So in addition to learning more about infraction levels, we were offered great advice: “you will have a lot of fun at work by building strong relationships and surrounding yourself with good people.”

We next heard from the Eligibility Center: Mike Massa and Glenn Terry. They are currently working on a web portal for high school student athletes who are interested in learning about their options after graduation. Keep on the look-out for more resources coming your way!

The last few guest speakers covered current legal cases, student-athlete health and safety, and the promotion of women’s basketball. 

Want to learn more? Simply follow the news headlines! The NCAA is making huge efforts to preserve and enhance student-athlete welfare. The National SAAC is honored to offer our opinion as we try to best represent ourselves, our sports, institutions and conferences. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Stetson's Katie DiGirolamo Wears the Leadership Hat Well

Katie DiGirolamo
When last seen on the sand volleyball court, Katie DiGirolamo was competing with her Stetson Hatters in the A-Sun Championship final.

The Hatters pushed A-Sun Champs UNF to the limit before falling, 3-2, and DiGirolamo split in her matches, 2-2, in the two-day championship.

Pairing her success with the Hatters on the court with excellence in the classroom and inspiring leadership, DiGirolamo is clearly striking the balance of student and athlete, embodying the A-Sun's mission of Building Winners for Life.

In 2012-13 DiGirolamo helped the Hatters to a 13-11 overall mark with a 5-3 record in A-Sun play. She teamed with Jordan Dierickx for a 12-8 record playing at the #3, #4 and #5 spots, while also posting a 4-2 record with Savannah Byl at the #2 and #3 spots.

Off the court, DiGirolamo has been impressive as well. She was a selection to the 2013 A-Sun Sand Volleyball Academic All-Conference Team, majoring in Business Administration with a 3.94 cumulative grade point average.

She has been named to the Dean's List each of her six semesters at Stetson, while also winning the Wendell N. Jarrard Sr. and General Business Merit awards. 

DiGirolamo is a founding member of the Stetson University Fellowship of Christian Athletes and has served as a Senator in the Student Government Association to represent all student-athletes.  She serves as President of the Stetson University Student-Athlete Advisory Council and was voted Miss Hatter for her school spirit.  In addition, she serves as the representative from the Atlantic Sun Conference on the National SAAC.

The SAAC exists to enhance the total student-athlete experience by promoting opportunity, protecting student-athlete welfare and fostering a positive student-athlete image. 

In Katie DiGirolamo, the A-Sun couldn't have selected a finer torchbearer.

“Katie has been a blessing to our Sand Volleyball team at Stetson over the past two years," said Stetson Volleyball Head Coach Tim Loesch. "She is one of our top players, an exceptional student and an even better person."

In her role as the A-Sun national representative, this week she will be attending the national SAAC meeting at the NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis, Ind. She will also be blogging here each day about her experiences and sharing about the good work that the SAAC continues to do for the nation's student-athletes.

DiGirolamo's passion about the work and impact of SAAC at the campus level has also led her to take a leadership role at the national level, where she chairs the 10-member committee that creates and produces "Our Voice," a newsletter produced and dedicated to keeping student-athletes informed and reminding them that they have a voice in NCAA matters. 

Initially her idea, DiGirolamo now recruits contributors from among the other national SAAC leadership and facilitates the newsletter's communication that she feels is so important in regards to student-athletes.

"I got involved with SAAC because I realized that it does give student-athletes a real voice in matters that concern them," she said. "There are things that I can do and that student-athletes can do that truly do have an impact, things that have a real sense of purpose."

DiGirolamo's group works toward fulfilling one of three priorities set forth within the National SAAC: The Student-Athlete Voice, Media Team and Community Service. Each area is comprised of approximately 10 SAAC representatives, and each has a chair. "Our Voice" serves to facilitate communication among SAAC chapters on campus, providing a consistent message about the issues that are affecting student-athletes. The group began publishing in April and with five issues published to date, feedback has been positive.

DiGirolamo believes that often student-athletes are simply not properly educated about issues that affect them.

"I think one of the things that SAAC does for student-athletes is to educate them. I believe there are many that don't know that their voice and their opinions about issues can be heard," she continued. "Plus, just as importantly, that what they have to offer is valued. That is why I have been involved, so that I can represent what is important to student-athletes."

DiGirolamo inherited positions on campus and in her role as the national A-Sun SAAC rep from another Stetson Hatter, Carolyn Boyd. DiGirolamo credits Boyd for the enhanced awareness of student-athlete issues not only on her Deland, Fla., campus, but among her peers around the conference as well.

"Carolyn Boyd did a really great job of building the foundation of the SAAC presence that the A-Sun has today," she said. "The A-Sun has a strong SAAC, and it does a good job of supporting our efforts and in acknowledging what we do."

DiGirolamo's work continues on both fronts. At home, her mission is the continued education of her peers and the strengthening of their voice. More and more student-athletes are buying to the SAAC's message, says DiGirolamo, and so she works to encourage the creation of and participation in more events that include volunteering and community involvement.

No better example of the A-Sun SAAC's commitment to community exists than its most recent endeavor, as its ninth annual fundraising competition raised more than $56,000 to benefit charities selected by the SAAC at each of the 10 A-Sun institutions. The total shatters the previous high mark of 22,209.68, set just last year. In fact, this year’s champion Mercer topped the previous A-Sun mark on its own, raising 23,475.00.

The exemplary effort by chapters from all 10 A-Sun member institutions benefited a number of recipients throughout 2012-13. A-Sun SAAC raised a total of $56,557.95 to benefit organizations including the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Donna Deegan Foundation, Kay Yow Foundation, American Cancer Society and Relay for Life (associated events such as Dig for the Cure, Dig Pink, Strike Out Cancer, Kickin’ It for Cancer, Kick Pink Game, Coaches vs. Cancer, United in Pink, Pink Zone), Alexis Kaiser Foundation, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, The Contributor, the Gibbs Cancer Center in Spartanburg, Boys and Girls Club, Georgia Children’s Home.

In working with her school at the institutional level, she and others have achieved priority registration for those student-athletes whose practice schedules require classes at certain times. They are also working with administrators creatively, such as proposing that athletic events become important "cultural credits," credits toward graduation that can be gained by attending and supporting the Hatters' athletic teams.

"I think there are things that we have been able to bring to the attention of administrators that just weren't imagined before," said DiGirolamo. "We brought to light things that weren't imagined about the rigors of being a student-athlete, and now we have opened those doors of communication."

"Katie is a wonderful role model for our younger players in many different ways," said Loesch. "During practices, weights and conditioning she is one of our hardest workers, always striving to improve. In the classroom she is among our brightest scholars and encourages others to do the same. Off the court, she helps organize many of our team community service endeavors and supports all of the other sports at Stetson.

"The best thing about Katie is that she does so many things, so well, for the right reasons.  She doesn’t do anything for recognition or trophies. She just loves to play, loves to learn and loves people. We are very blessed to have her on our team."

Monday, July 8, 2013

A-Sun Women's Golfer of the Year Ines Lescudier: Update from the European Ladies' Championship

Ines Lescudier, the standout women's golfer for Kennesaw State University, is currently a member of Team France in the 2013 European Ladies' Championship in Fulford GC, Yorkshire, England.

Lescudier will be providing regular blogs updating her experiences at the championship. In her first round, Ines carded a one-over-par 73. Follow the championship live here: Championship results.

Below are her thoughts on the first two days. Check back later for her report of today's round.

Friday, July 12 – Today, we played against Netherlands. It was different from the day before because we only had 5 matches instead of 7. There were only one foursome and 4 singles.

We won 3 singles so we stopped the match. I won mine on 18. I played very well, 4 birdies and 2 bogeys. The girl against me won 16 by making the chip in for birdie, and I missed the putt to tie this hole. On 17, I missed again a putt for birdie (8 feet). However, on 18, I made the putt for par (9 feet) and won my match.

Tomorrow we are playing for the 5th or 6th place against Denmark, the team that won the stroke play. It is very important for us to win this game to show that even if we lost against Spain yesterday, we finish greatly.

There will be again 1 foursome and 4 singles, and I'm leading the singles.

Thursday, July 11 – Today we lost against Spain. We lost the 2 foursomes in the morning.

With Justine, we lost 2/1. We played poorly on the first few holes and never came back from that. However, we were 3 down after 14 and we won 15 and 16. Unfortunately, I missed the putt (3 feet) on 17 to continue.

On the afternoon, we knew it would be very hard, we had to win 4 singles out of 5. The last French girls to play lost, so we stopped my match and the 2 in front of me. I played against Noemi Jimenez, the girl who beat me at the British Amateur. I lost the first 4 holes, but after that I played very well. I made a couple of birdies and only one bogey. After 12, I was still 4 down but I won the next 4 holes. Unfortunately, my game was stopped on 17 when I came back all square. We were very sad and very disappointed but the Spanish girls played well and deserved to win.

Wednesday, July 10 – Yesterday was great with perfect weather. I played 73 which was a good score. I didn't make enough birdies to shoot lower, my putts didn't want to get in. We were in the top eight as a team but we haven't played well.

Today I started very badly. I was +5 after 6, after making an out of bounds on number 2. It was hard for me to come back after that, especially because the course was harder than in the first round. It was cooler, a little windy and the pins' positions were not easy. However, I didn't give up and I was still +5 after 17 but made 3 putts on number 18.

I'm glad because my score didn't count today, and we finally got in the top eight (tied for sixth place). We're playing against Spain tomorrow. There will be two foursomes in the morning and five singles in the afternoon. 

I'm playing the foursome with my old friend Justine Dreher (morning) and I'm also supposed to play (singles) in the afternoon. 

Monday, July 8 – We played late in the afternoon today. We've made two teams, 3 vs. 3 and my team won! 

We took the best two scores on each hole, and my team and I played -5. I've made a couple of birdies myself so I'm confident for tomorrow. I'm taking the first tee time which is at 7:50 am.

After the round we just had time to take a shower and to go to the ceremony. Every team has to wear a business attire, usually with the colors and logos of our countries. 

Then, we just walked along our own flags and took official pictures. The ceremony is very impressive and announces the start of the tournament. 

I'm very excited and proud to play tomorrow. Let's see!

Sunday, July 7 –  We played our first round today. It was very warm, such a surprise in England! 

The course is very nice, not a typical links. I played this course a few years ago for a match between France and Canada, but I didn't remember much of it! It's actually a long course, about 5800 meters, so around 6400 yards. The greens are fast, which is something I like.

The main difficulty is on the tee boxes. All the bunkers on the fairways are at the bad carry, so we sometimes had to play our 3-wood instead of our drivers.

The team is in very good shape and very excited. This tournament is the most important event for the French team, after the world championship.

We are playing a second practice round tomorrow which is going be some games since we are done with the yardage book. Then, the tournament will start on Tuesday.

Lescudier enjoyed a fantastic season for the Owls, leading the A-Sun in stroke average (74.23) and earning Atlantic Sun Women's Golf Player of the Year, A-Sun Scholar-Athlete of the Year and A-Sun Championship medalist honors. Lescudier also recorded a pair of top-20 finishes along with two top-fives, including the A-Sun individual title.

It was her final A-Sun performance of 2013, however, that was the most impressive. In the final round of the A-Sun Championship, Lescudier finished her last 11 holes at eight-under-par, including seven consecutive birdies from holes 11 through 17, for an amazing back-nine total of 29. The 29 is the best by an A-Sun player in the 24-year history of the championship and one of the top 10 rounds shot by a Division I collegiate player this season. Her previous best for consecutive birdies made was four, her previous low round of the season was a 68 and her prior three-round total best was a 212.

She broke six individual championship records, including the low 18-hole score that previously was 67, the low 54-hole score (210, previously 212), the low 18-hole score vs. par (-6, previously -4). the low 54-hole score vs. par (-6, previously -4), the low third round score (66, previously 69) and the low final round by a winner (66, previously 69).