Thursday, March 15, 2018

Luther Hosts Annual Norse Awards

Submitted by Madilyn Heinke, Luther SAAC:

On Sunday, February 18 the annual Norse Awards took place in Regents Center to celebrate the dedication and success of Luther College Athletics. With over 400 student athletes and coaches in attendance, Kenny and Jane Wheeler (pictured below with Alex Smith, far left, and Jeff Wettach, far right) accepted the first Jeff Wettach Alumni Coach of the Year award. Both coaches are Luther grads who went on to share their life and the head coaching positions for the Track and Cross Country teams at Pleasant Valley High School in Bettendorf, Iowa. The two share their success with over 100 members on their Track & Field team. While the two are not coaching they are spending time with their three daughters.

The Alumni Coach of the Year was named the Jeff Wettach Alumni Coach of the Year Award in honor of Luther’s Track and Field coach, Coach Jeff Wettach. Coach Wettach has shared his talents for over 30 years with Luther College students and athletes. He has coached Track and Field along with Football. Coach has not only touched the lives of many athletes but students as well through his teaching of Adaptive PE. Coach was honored with the award dedication and will forever have a place in Luther College history as a man who has helped to shape the lives of many Luther students.

The night continued with host, Brian Solberg. The 2016-17 teams took a look back on a year of successful Luther sports and shared some laughs along the way. The 2018 Senior class of student coaches, managers, and athletic trainers were recognized for everything they do. Nine Awards were given to athletes and teams for their outstanding accomplishments:
  • Record Breaking Performance - Women’s Golf
  • Jeff Wettach Coach of the Year - Kenny and Jane Wheeler
  • Play of the Year - Ben Keller and Andrew Avram
  • Comeback of the Year - Men’s Basketball
  • Freshman Male Athlete of the Year - Matthew Staver
  • Female Athlete of the Year - Laura Hamilton
  • Male Athlete of the Year - Justin Kreiter
  • Female Athlete of the Year - Anna Strien
  • Team of the Year - Football
Congratulations to all Luther College Athletes and Coaches on a year full of success and wonderful memories. Head wrestling coach Dave Mitchell, pictured below, and the rest of the crowd enjoyed the evening.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Wartburg Hosts Unified Sports Day

Wartburg held its 18th annual Unified Sports Day on Saturday February 13 with nearly 240 volunteers and special athletes registered for the day. Again this year, Wartburg partnered with Special Olympics Iowa and the Waverly Kiwanis Club to have another successful event.  The Waverly Kiwanis Club assists with registration, serves lunch and gives a financial donation to Special Olympics Iowa. The Wartburg Student-Athlete Advisory Committee is the campus sponsor for the event as part of the NCAA Division III Special Olympics partnership. The day was filled with many activities including bowling, parachute, ladder golf, bean bag toss, volleyball, basketball, soccer and a picture frame craft. Always a highlight of the event is the basketball game with special athletes versus the Wartburg student volunteers – again this year the Special Olympics athletes won the game!

Friday, January 22, 2016

UD Athletes Volunteer at Special Olympics

Iowa Special Olympics held its Winter Games in the Dubuque area earlier this month. Pictured are UD Spartan volunteers Mike Huck (WREST) and Izaiah Lavatai (TRACK).

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Luther SAAC Hosts Special Olympics "Unity Bowl"

The link below provides a press release and video summary of a very special project conducted by Luther's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.

Luther College SAAC's "Unity Bowl"

Monday, November 16, 2015

Central to Conduct Food Drive

Please see this post from the Central College Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. The group will conduct a Food Drive at Wednesday's basketball doubleheader.

Click here for story on Central College's website.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Fall 2015 Meeting Summary

Two representatives from each Iowa Conference school's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee met with athletics administrators from all eight schools this past Sunday at the Cedar Rapids Marriott. The purpose of the annual in-person meeting is to share best practices about the various SAAC activities on each campus and to provide feedback on legislative proposals at the upcoming NCAA Convention (January) and Iowa Conference Management Council meeting (November 16).

Buena Vista tries to have an event each month. Among those events, will be group participation in an after-school program where student-athletes will serve as additional helpers with the attendees. SAAC also sponsored a recent costume contest, and some are participating in "No-Shave November" to promote cancer prevention.
Central conducted one of its most successful blood drives ever. They also sponsored a sports nutritionist who came to campus to talk to the female student-athletes, in particular. The SAAC also has reached across campus for education from administration. The Student Life office, for example, conducted a session on sexual assault, which is an important topic on campuses nationally.
Coe has participated in an "America Reads" walk-a-thon. They're also looking at an upcoming social function billed as a "Family Feast" in which student-athletes will bring a potluck dish for a department-wide bonding event. The SAAC also sponsors an Espys-like program later in the year that recognizes student-athletes for excellence on and off the field.
Dubuque is attempting to integrate its SAAC into some existing programs sponsored by the entire institution. Each year, the campus volunteers to clean a local park in the city. The school also is involved in a city-sponsored "Dream Center." The organization works to encourage and motivate underprivileged youth as role models.
Loras recently conducted a Talent Show in which teams were paired and had to come up with a dance skit. Coe also has been thinking about this idea, and the Loras reps had good advice. For Division III Week last year, SAAC sponsored a cookout at the scheduled softball doubleheader. Loras also sponsored a "Take a Kid to the Game" event for a September soccer doubleheader.
Luther will be trying a new Special Olympics project this year. "Unity Bowl" will pair Special Olympics athletes with Luther student-athletes for an on-campus program followed by a trip to a local bowling alley. Luther also revived an annual pep rally. Billed as the "Rally in the Valley," it was a great kickoff to Homecoming weekend.
Simpson is looking to partner with Indianola High School, which does a big Special Olympics activity. SAAC also has been involved in the campus's "Rally to Stop Hunger." Dance Marathon, a popular activity on college campuses nationally, comes to Simpson this year. SAAC will have a role in planning and conducting the event. SAAC also sponsors a year-end athletics banquet.
Wartburg conducts annual projects with great success. The group is doing the Northeast Iowa Food Bank Backpack Pack on November 17. SAAC is involved heavily annually in the Special Olympics Unified Sports Day. Something new this year was a series of sessions that provided leadership training to student-athletes. SAAC will sponsor a Bystander Intervention training program in January.

NCAA Legislation
The group provided input on three key NCAA proposals that will be voted in January.

* Deregulation of Electronic Transmissions -- This proposal would eliminate many of the coach/ administrator limitations on social-media sites like Twitter and Facebook. Currently, a coach or individual sport page or feed may not "Like" or "Follow" a prospect. Public posting on Facebook pages and Twitter feeds also is impermissible. The IIAC SAAC voted 4-12 against the proposal, citing intrusion and borderline unprofessional aspects of college coaches' communication with prospects. Supporters noted this is the way young people communicate, and Division III should allow for as aggressive a recruiting platform as possible since we don't allow athletics scholarships.

* Football Nontraditional Season -- Considered for the second straight Convention, this proposal would allow a full-blown spring practice for football. Currently, all that's permitted is non-contact, non-padded conditioning sessions. The Conference SAAC voted 14-2 in favor of adopting the nontraditional season, citing better preparation for the following season and equity with the other fall sports that practice formally in the spring.

* Institutional Fundraisers Involving Athletics Ability -- The Iowa Conference and the University Athletic Association are cosponsoring this. It would allow, on a voluntary basis, a student-athlete to participate in these fundraisers out-of-season. The example given was the member of the golf team that participates in a par 3 challenge at the athletics department's annual golf outing. The student-athlete is not required to be there and is not being directed by the coach or any staff member in any way. The IIAC SAAC supported the proposal, 16-0.

IIAC Fall Meeting Legislation
The group provided input on a couple of the proposals that will be considered by the IIAC Management Council on November 16. None rose to the level of taking an actual vote.

Action Items
* Forward SAAC activities write-ups and photos to be posted on this blog.
* Emphasis on sportsmanship and diversity programming; the conference office would like to see the hashtag #IIACUnited when these programs are publicized (on Twitter or not, given the hashtag sign is well-known everywhere).
* An February conference call to review action steps, discuss NCAA Convention actions, and preview the Iowa Conference spring legislative agenda. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Coe Hosts Annual Special Olympics Program

Coe hosted its Special Olympics Track and Field Event on Saturday, April 11th.  There were over 200 Special Olympics athletes that competed, and Coe had 70 student-athletes/coaches who volunteered. Volunteers helped out as 'high-fivers,' event staff or one-on-one guides. This is a great annual event and a significant way that Coe supports Division III's partnership with the Special Olympics.