By Matt Collins
The Seton Hall athletic department announced its newly elected 2020-21 Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) executive board via Twitter on Aug. 28.
Mike Esposito of the baseball team was elected president after serving as the committee’s chief of staff last year. Vice President Lizzie Win of women’s golf, Chief of Staff Jonathan Luders of baseball and Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Rep. Emily Hernandez of women’s cross country make up the rest of the SAAC executive board.
Both Esposito and Win—now graduate students—were nominated by their peers at SAAC’s first meeting of the semester in August. Although unopposed in their respective elections, the lack of candidates to compete against served as a testament to the faith the rest of the athletics community had in their leadership.
Esposito then shocked sophomore baseball player Jonathan Luders by nominating him as Chief of Staff. Esposito said he mentored Luders as a freshman last year and was impressed with his work ethic and diligent note-taking.
“In meetings, our coach could take a breath and [Luders] would probably write ‘a breath,’” Esposito said. “That’s how much he writes notes. He probably has a manuscript from every meeting we’ve had.”
Esposito and Win will be in charge of leading monthly SAAC meetings, listening to concerns of their constituents and providing information about volunteer opportunities and Pirate Blue events to the 27 team representatives that make up SAAC. The information is then relayed from the teams’ representatives to the rest of their teammates and coaching staff.
“Lizzie and Espo are the two most respected athletes among their peers,” said Roberto Sasso, Associate Athletics Director for Student-Athlete Development & Leadership. “That alone gives them the credibility they need for these positions.”
Win has the added responsibility of being Seton Hall’s SAAC representative for the Big East, coordinating with the conference’s other member schools and their SAAC representatives. Win described a meeting this year with Big East Commissioner Val Ackerman and added that the priorities for SAAC this year are voter registration, civil engagement and promoting social justice.
The college-long friendship between Win and Esposito as well as the collaborative skills of Luders and Hernandez have all four excited for what’s to come this year. Their unity and camaraderie are needed in times such as these, where all SAAC meetings must be held via Zoom or Microsoft Teams. Lizzie Win said that despite the difficulty of scheduling meetings, the e-board has gotten used to Microsoft Teams because they’ve used it often since March.
“For us, being a part of something that requires such leadership is something we’re going to remember, but it’s also something that we want our teammates and the rest of Seton Hall to remember,” Win said.
Despite the reality into which the pandemic has forced Seton Hall Athletics, the e-board and Sasso remain confident about what the athletics department can accomplish both on and off the field throughout the winter and spring seasons.Matt Collins can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.