Buffalo, NY – At the NCAA convention this past January, two D'Youville student-athletes had the opportunity to learn and experience the other side of collegiate athletics.
Senior men's soccer captain Aweso Noor and senior baseball captain Travis Macrides each took in different experiences at the NCAA Convention this January in Indianapolis, IN. Aweso took part in the NCAA Division III Student Immersion Program while Travis was the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) representative for D'Youville.
As part of the immersion program, Aweso met the other 39 participants who were all also student-athletes. The participants each met with their mentors about career goals. Each mentor was either a senior administrator or athletic director.
Day one also included both Aweso and Travis attending the honors dinner where they met and interacted with fellow student-athletes from schools from around the country. They both then were able to experience the Hall of Champions - an award ceremony in which student-athletes throughout the country were honored for both academic and athletic achievements.
Among those who were award winners including NCAA Silver Anniversary Award winner and two-time Super Bowl champion kicker Jason Elam, Inspiration Award winner and Buffalo Bills Legend Jim Kelly, and the Theodore Roosevelt Award winner NASA astronaut Captain Barry "Butch" Wilmore. Travis was able to meet Kelly – an NFL Hall of Famer. Aweso was able to meet Julie Foudy, former midfielder for the United States Women's Soccer team, two-time FIFA World Cup Winner, and Olympic Gold Medalist.
Each of the two men had different experiences for day two. As a member of the immersion program, Aweso again met with his mentors and began the day with breakfast and then educational programming. Following lunch each student-athlete was assigned two mentors that were recently graduated students. They helped in giving Aweso and others advice and help in navigating the process to find roles and jobs in the NCAA.
Prior to the beginning of the convention, Aweso was invited to take a personality exam which asks situational questions. He received his test results on day two they revealed he had characteristics such as outgoing, enthusiastic, optimistic, high spirited, and lively as well as even tempered, accommodating, patient, humble, and tactful. Thanks to the test, Aweso was able to learn more about himself and how to better interact with others.
"With the assessments first and foremost I got to learn a few things about myself," he said. "Also I was able to learn about other characteristics as well and how I can use my knowledge of myself and other characteristics to better relate and also adjust to different personalities as well."
At the end of day two, Aweso and fellow members of the immersion program met up with Travis and their SAAC counterparts.
On the third day of the convention, the guys were both invited to the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference (AMCC) meeting with school athletic directors and senior women administrators. They were asked to participate with ideas and insight.
The final day of their time at the NCAA convention, the NCAA voted on eight different proposals in which the student-athletes were able to voice their opinions on, but not granted voting rights on. Travis and Aweso felt that it was great for the student-athletes to have an influence on such a large organization and to understand how others think.
"It was great to see that we as student athletes have great influence," said Noor. "So it's good to speak up and be heard because the NCAA will do it's best to address our concerns. But, if we remain quiet then we can't make progress and changes."
"I enjoyed the issues forum and the voting portion of the convention," said Macrides. "I enjoyed getting to hear the perspectives of administrators from other schools as well as other student-athletes. I liked being able to see the voting process for the part that now allows alumni games. As a senior I know I will be looking forward to participating in our alumni game as alumni."
Throughout their four days in Indianapolis, the two shared different experiences but learned a great deal about the NCAA, themselves, and how fellow student-athletes can relate.
"I thought the convention was a great experience for me as a student athlete," said Macrides. "Before I was unaware of how the NCAA worked behind the scenes, and now I have experienced it firsthand."
"Most importantly, it was a great opportunity to network with people who have had success, meeting the future leaders of tomorrow, so just being in that environment was rewarding it of itself," Noor added.
The lasting takeaway from the experience for Aweso goes just beyond the game on the field, but creating change at the student-athlete level.
"What I got out of this convention is that never be afraid to speak up, because there could be other student-athletes facing similar situations. Be empowered to share information. Last but not least I was also very fortunate to network and see the operation side of the NCAA while simultaneously gaining lifelong friendships."