GANSEVOORT, N.Y. – The North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) was delighted to provide five of its student-athletes with the experience of attending the 2016 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Convention, which was held Jan. 13-16 in San Antonio, Texas.
Through the assistance of grant funding, the NEAC sent SUNY Polytechnic Institute senior Nicholas Levanti (Clayville, N.Y.), Bryn Athyn College senior Robert Moran (Ambler, Pa.), Morrisville State College junior Jessica Chandler (Morrisville, N.Y.), College of Saint Elizabeth junior Nicole Morera (Lumberton, N.J.) and Wilson College sophomore Miranda Long (Catawissa, Pa.) to the annual convention as conference representatives. Below are profiles of each student-athlete, as well as a question-and-answer session with all five student-athletes regarding their experiences and takeaways from the event.
SUNY Polytechnic Institute senior Connor Passalacqua (Whitestown, N.Y.) also attended the event for the third straight year as the conference’s National Division III Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) representative. Passalacqua, whose term ended following this year’s convention, will be profiled in a separate piece regarding his experience at this year’s convention in addition to taking a look back at his service during the three-year term.
Minor: Criminal Justice
Major: Business Administration
College of Saint Elizabeth
Major: Criminal Justice
Minor (Double): History & American History
Field Hockey & Women's Basketball
Major: Criminal Justice
Minor: Animal Studies
Student-Athlete Question-and-Answer Session
(Answers listed alphabetically by last name)
Are you a member of SAAC at your institution? If yes, do you have any current titles within the group (President, Secretary, etc.)?
(Chandler) I am currently a member of my school's SAAC. I don't currently hold a title but I hope to run for one next year.
(Levanti) I represent our lacrosse team in SAAC at our school.
(Long) I am currently the secretary of SAAC at Wilson College.
(Moran) Yes and no I do not have any title.
(Morera) Yes, I am our school’s SAAC Vice President.
Did you enjoy your time at the convention? Did you find the experience to be beneficial?
(Chandler) The convention was awesome! It was certainly a unique experience and the amount I learned about all divisions of the NCAA, as well as the NEAC alone, was really beneficial to me as a student-athlete.
(Levanti) Yes, I enjoyed my experience at the convention. I got to learn a lot about the inner workings of the NCAA and how decisions are proposed and made at the national level and at the conference level.
(Long) I really enjoyed my time at the convention and found it to be very beneficial. Having the opportunity to be included in legislation and other decisions being made for the NCAA as a whole and only within our conference was awesome.
(Moran) Yes, I enjoyed my time at the convention a lot. It was a great experience to see the behind-the-scenes operations of the NCAA.
(Morera) I had an amazing time at the convention. I thought the experience was very beneficial; it gave us a sneak peek into what our administrators do behind closed doors that we don’t always know about and how much they really do for us.
Were you able to network with people from the various NCAA divisions (I, II and III)?
(Chandler) Throughout all of the NCAA scheduled events we had ample opportunities to speak with people from all divisions and conferences. Whether it was formally at a meeting or simply waiting in line for food at one the receptions, it was neat to be able to interact with many different people.
(Levanti) Yes, there was lots of time to interact and talk to many people of all divisions in the NCAA and learn about different institutions that compete at all divisional levels of the NCAA.
(Long) Yes, I met a lot of people. I am a social person and had no problem introducing myself to people or talking to people I don’t know. I met ladies on my plane who then connected me with people that they knew during the honors celebration, which was really cool.
(Moran) I was able to hold discussions with many different representatives from other institutions at the levels from SAAC members to university presidents.
(Morera) Most of us NEAC members hung out together, but by the end of the trip we met a few other people along the way that play in Division II. The young man was a swimmer and the young lady was a volleyball player.
How much time did you spend with the other NEAC student-athletes that attended? Did you or the group get to enjoy any activities outside of the event while in San Antonio?
(Chandler) We spent nearly all of our free time together. The group of students chosen to attend this year were great. We visited the Alamo, went shopping, and went out to dinner together. I'm glad to have been involved with such great student-athletes.
(Levanti) We spent lots of time together as student-athletes who compete in the NEAC and we got lots of opportunities to discuss different aspects of our respective institutions. We also got a chance to visit the Alamo, as well as some museums in San Antonio such as the Guinness Book of World Records Museum.
(Long) We all pretty much stayed together and hung out throughout the whole convention. We took some time to go tour the Alamo and go to some other museums and do a River Walk boat tour. We also just kind of explored at times to find places to go.
(Moran) We as a group of NEAC student-athletes were able to bond immensely during our time in San Antonio. Being able to room with a fellow lacrosse player was also interesting because we were able to talk about our visits to the different schools in the NEAC, giving a good common ground. In San Antonio we were able to get to see the Alamo, the River Walk, and the Guinness World Records Museum.
(Morera) We actually spent most of our free time together. We went sight seeing a lot. We went to the Alamo, on the River Walk boat ride, the mall, we went out to eat and went to a few other interactive museums.
How was the experience of having a personal dinner with NEAC Commissioner Candice Murray?
(Chandler) Unfortunately my flight was changed and I arrived a day and a half late so I missed the dinner the first night.
(Levanti) Candice was great. She was there to help us understand any of the stuff going on during meetings we did not understand fully, and she was also there to help us however she possibly could, such as travel, meeting times, and literally anything. She was great and a key part of making this trip such a positive experience for me personally and I think for everyone involved.
(Long) Our dinner with Candice was really fun. It was a nice icebreaker for all of us to get to know one another and for her to get to know us. It was small and we could really use the time to learn a lot and get comfortable with each other.
(Moran) I was not able to attend this dinner, but Candice was extremely nice in my interactions with her and was really helpful with anything that came up.
(Morera) It was fun; we all got to know each other a little better and just have fun. For a lot of us, it was our first time really traveling alone.
What did you learn from being involved with the various in-person NEAC meetings? Were you able to be active in those discussions?
(Chandler) The NEAC meetings were really interesting to be a part of. Being able to see all of the different people involved in discussing and making decisions was neat. Although things seemed to get a little tense at times, it showed how much each person there really cares about our colleges. I was more of a listener in the meetings as opposed to being an active speaker, but the experience was beneficial nonetheless.
(Levanti) We were able to see how the conference makes decisions and we were able to have our input heard by our schools’ representative athletics directors, assistant athletics directors and school presidents. We got to do a lot of listening about debates that directly impact our lives as NEAC student-athletes.
(Long) We were able to be active, especially as a SAAC member. Our opinions were valued most.
(Moran) I was not able to be too active in these discussions, but these NEAC meetings were perhaps the most interesting experience at the convention. The issues that we were discussing were very prevalent to me and the issues that some of the institutions brought up were applicable to the other institutions because of the similarities, but others were not because of the differences.
(Morera) For most of the NEAC meetings we sat in we just watched and didn’t say much besides introducing ourselves. With that said, I think we learned about some major issues our conference has and how formal the layout of those meetings had to be to get anything passed or to even just open a topic up for discussion.
Did you find your experience at the National SAAC events to be beneficial? Why or why not?
(Chandler) The National SAAC events were probably my favorite events of the trip. It was so cool to be able to speak with them and hear their inputs regarding decisions being made on our campuses.
(Levanti) Yes, we got to hear issues that pertained to our lives as student-athletes from other individuals in the same or similar position as us. We learned more about how important our voices are in the NCAA.
(Long) Yes, I found the events very beneficial. Most of the sessions we went to were very relatable and allowed us to have an insight on what to expect for our future, or gave us advice for current issues.
(Moran) Yes and no. These events were a great opportunity for the members to discuss the issues among the students but I only wish there was more opportunity and preparation for these events. Despite this, I felt that the discussions were useful and covered many of the issues facing our institutions across the country.
(Morera) National SAAC was fun. I like how we had corny ice breakers to try and get to know one another, considering there was like 150 of us in the room. It was cool that they had a time set aside to hear our questions and concerns.
Was there a specific NCAA session or event that you enjoyed the most? If so, please explain why.
(Chandler) NCAA SAAC events as previously mentioned were my favorite. We shared ideas on DIII week events, on different types of challenges that campuses are having, and it was neat to hear all of these things from other student-athletes.
(Levanti) I really enjoyed the NEAC meetings because they were applicable to us as NEAC student-athletes specifically. Also, I enjoyed the DIII mental health meetings and hearing about important student-athlete mental health issues.
(Long) I really enjoyed the honors celebration. It allowed me to meet a lot of inspirational people and well-known people. It was cool to hear everyone’s stories and to see where the awarded people were going in their lives.
(Moran) The NCAA honors ceremony was extremely cool because of the scale of everything; it was unique to be at one of the events that you see videos of. Despite this, the NEAC meetings where the voting occurred were the sessions I enjoyed the most. It was awesome to see how much discussion goes into the issues and the legislative process behind everything.
(Morera) I really enjoyed the educational session and life after sports. It explained the athlete definition of being “healthy” and everyone else’s definition of being healthy. It will always be okay to be competitive, but when we are working out for our health, it doesn’t always have to be a competition.
What did you take away most from being at the convention?
(Chandler) Sometimes rules put into place seem strange, but there really is a lot of discussion and reasoning behind each decision that is made. It really put things into perspective. Although one rule may not benefit my school, it would benefit the majority of the conference. This experience was great and I learned so much from every event I attended.
(Levanti) I took away the interest in pursuing a career in college athletics and also understanding the behind-the-scenes issues that may get overlooked if you do not have an opportunity to experience these issues firsthand and notice all the moving parts that are involved in NCAA issues.
(Long) I took away the educational sessions when we really got to learn about the transition in life from being a student-athlete. That is something that really concerns me and my future and I feel that was very relatable and important to learn about. I definitely feel better prepared and more confident about my future.
(Moran) That a lot of work goes into the minute details that we take for granted or even the rules that hinder us. Getting an inside look at why some of the rules were put in place gives you a greater respect for the NCAA as an institution.
(Morera) I took away an even higher appreciation and respect for our NEAC school presidents, athletics directors, commissioner, and other faculty that dedicate so much for us.
What advice would you give to a student-athlete that attends the event in the future in terms of preparation, now that you have experienced it yourself?
(Chandler) My advice would be to enjoy every minute you're there. Try to learn as much as possible, meet as many people as possible, and have fun!
(Levanti) I think preparing yourself by researching current topics that may be discussed at the meetings and having a general understanding of many of the topics that may be discussed can help you learn more while decisions are being proposed and finalized. Also, asking questions is key. If something is tough to understand, asking an administrator how this applies to you and fully hearing out all the different aspects that are being discussed is vital in learning a lot at this highly informative convention.
(Long) I would just prepare them more for what to pack clothing-wise and lounge wear. Also, let them know that there will be down time to explore and do other things.
(Moran) Honestly, vet some of the other student-athletes on some of the issues. That way, you can come with an agenda that you can reasonably pursue. If you do not have an agenda then it can be extremely useful to just keep your ears and eyes open and take in as much as you can.
(Morera) I would advise a future student that attends convention to go sightseeing and take everything in. It really is a once-in-a-lifetime chance. This experience really gave me the full student-athlete experience. We all know the playing and academic side, but it was awesome seeing the administrative part and how much they listen to us and everything they do for us. I would also try to stay in contact with the people you meet there. Surprisingly, I have made a great friend there and we still keep in contact.
The North Eastern Athletic Conference 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 Lacrosse & M Volleyball), Medaille College (M&W Lacrosse & M Volleyball), Penn State Altoona (M Volleyball) and Rutgers University - Camden (M Golf). The North Eastern Athletic Conference has partnered with the North Atlantic Conference in the sports of field hockey and men’s and women’s tennis.