GANSEVOORT, N.Y. – As student-athletes across the North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) prepare to participate in a number of service projects with their respective Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), we kickoff NEAC SAAC Service Week by meeting NEAC SAAC Officers Michael Litz and Zach Haskins.
In November at the annual NEAC SAAC meeting, student-athletes from across the conference met at Penn College to participate in a number of activities that included Gameday the DIII Way training, production of the NEAC Sportsmanship video and election of new officers. As a result of that election, Michael Litz (Huntingdon Valley, Pa.) was selected as the NEAC SAAC Chair and Zach Haskin (Warnerville, N.Y.) was named the NEAC SAAC Vice-Chair. Both Litz and Haskin will serve for one year, assisting with conference SAAC operations and participating on conference committees.
Litz is a sophomore on the Penn State Abington men’s tennis team and has already put together an impressive resume. During his rookie year, Litz was named NEAC Men’s Tennis Player of the Year and NEAC Men’s Tennis Co-Rookie of the Year. Off the court, he was also honored as a NEAC Scholar-Athlete.
Haskin is a junior on the SUNY Cobleskill men’s track and field team and has his own list of outstanding accomplishments. Haskin received the 2016-17 SUNY Cobleskill Stanley Nevins Award as the department’s top male athlete after becoming the first Fighting Tiger to qualify for the NCAA Division III Indoor Track & Field Championship.
Litz and Haskin will join student-athletes across the league in a variety of projects that will highlight NEAC SAAC Service week, which runs from Feb. 12-18. With community service being a large component of the Division III student-athlete experience, the NEAC celebrates its student-athletes’ efforts as part of the NEAC Presidents’ Cup. Four categories are calculated to determine the overall NEAC Presidents’ Cup winner, with community service recognized in the rankings for the NEAC Senior Woman Administrators’ Cup. A compilation of service projects completed by our member institutions will be highlighted on the NEAC website following the conclusion of NEAC SAAC Service Week. Annual cup winners are announced each summer by the conference office.
Prior to NEAC SAAC Service Week, we reached out to Litz and Haskin for some brief insight into their Division III experience and their involvement with SAAC.
What is your major and what are your future career aspirations?
Mike: I am majoring in Finance. My goal is to eventually obtain my doctorate and be able to teach at a college or university. I would also one day love to transition into the administrative side of higher education.
Zach: My major is Communications and I have received my coaching certificate. With my degree and the certificate, I want to become a track & field coach and help schools promote athletics.
What interested you in stepping into a NEAC SAAC Officer position?
Mike: I was inspired to step into a NEAC SAAC officer position after seeing the kind of impact that student-athletes can have on others and their community. Penn State Abington had recently participated in our Fall Service Day and after seeing just how much we as student-athletes were able to help families who could not help themselves. I knew I wanted to lead more efforts to help maximize the difference that student-athletes can make.
Zach: I really enjoy being involved in different things and knowing what is going on behind-the-scenes. I also like to learn new things and help in any way that I can. This opportunity will help me be able to achieve all those goals.
What do you love most about being a Division III student-athlete?
Mike: I love being a Division III student-athlete because it gives me the opportunity to play and enjoy the sport I love, but also allows me to put academics as my number one priority.
Zach: I love all the people that you meet. Whether they are from other schools or your own school, you meet a ton of different people while creating memories and bonds that will last a lifetime. Being a Division III student-athlete also gives you the drive to be a better person. You push yourself to limits you never thought you would be able to reach with a team and great coaches that believe in you to make all that possible.
What value do you believe SAAC brings to the Division III experience?
Mike: I believe SAAC is invaluable to the Division III experience as it allows student-athletes to connect with their communities, as well as maximize their involvement on campus. Student-athletes at any level of NCAA competition have a platform and a voice as a result of being a student-athlete, and SAAC in turn allows them to have an on-campus and off-campus impact they may otherwise not have.
Zach: I think SAAC is very important for the student-athletes because all the leaders of different teams can come together and share ideas of how to make athletics better. It brings student-athletes together in a bonding experience. SAAC also allows us to express ideas based on our perspective of what we will like and want to participate in.
The North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) has fourteen NCAA Division III member institutions which include: Bryn Athyn College, Cazenovia College, College of St. Elizabeth, Gallaudet University, Keuka College, Lancaster Bible College, Pennsylvania College of Technology, Pennsylvania State University – Abington, Pennsylvania State University – Berks, SUNY Cobleskill, SUNY Morrisville State College, SUNY Polytechnic Institute, Wells College, and Wilson College. Associate members are: Cedar Crest College (W Swimming), D’Youville College (M Volleyball), Hilbert College (M&W Lacrosse), Medaille College (M&W Lacrosse, M Volleyball), Pennsylvania State University – Altoona (M Volleyball), and Rutgers University – Camden (M Golf). The NEAC has partnered with the North Atlantic Conference in the sports of field hockey and men’s tennis. For more information, please visit: www.neacsports.com.