Twenty-three of Sam Houston student-athlete leaders dined with 14 of the university’s top administrators at the second annual SAAC Champion Luncheon Wednesday, March 23.

“It’s hard to say who had the better time, the student-athletes or the administrators,” Bearkat director of athletics Bobby Williams said. “The luncheon was a big success with everyone having great conversations and interactions.”

The purpose of the luncheon was to give top leaders from Sam Houston intercollegiate teams the opportunity for fellowship and interaction with university leaders. The event was held at the Ron Mafrige Field House.

“The goal was to bring together the leadership of our Student-Athlete Advisory Committee with our campus leaders to give out student-athletes the opportunity to broaden their view of Sam Houston State University,” Williams said. “Intercollegiate athletics certainly is an integral part of the Sam Houston experience but it is not the only part. The luncheon was a chance for SAAC members to network with campus leaders and broaden their view of athletics’ role in supporting the University’s mission and goals.”

SAAC members attending included Ruth Amaku (track), Jasmin Anderson (basketball), Amanda Barnes (basketball), Shelby Genung (volleyball), Michelle Griffith (volleyball), Anna Groce (bowling), Dakarai Henderson (basketball), Ragan Henderson (football), Donald Jackson III (football), Allie Johnson (soccer), Claire Kilpatrick (volleyball), Ashley Kopps (softball), Janine Kuwahara (bowling), Elizabeth Lyssy (track), Aurimas Majauskas (basketball), Ana Moreno (track), Maddie Mortimore (tennis), Francis Porter (track), Jay Roberson (track), Zack Stevens (football), Howard Sylve (athletic training), Logan Terry (track) and Alysia Winn (athletic training).

Hope Parker (head athletic trainer) and Jason Hooten (basketball) from the SHSU athletic staff also attended.

“The event was a success,” Williams said. “Both student-athletes and administrators enjoyed and learned from the interaction. We had a virtual who’s who of top administrators from across the campus. Getting to be part of an event like the SAAC Champion Luncheon is one of the great things about my job. ”

Sam Houston administrators present included Kathy Gilcrease (Chief of Staff to the President); vice presidents Mark Adams (Information Technology), Dr. Carlos Hernandez (Finance and Operations), Dr. Heather Thielemann (Enrollment Management), Dr. Jaimie Hebert (Provost, Academic Affairs) and Frank Holmes (Unversity of Advancement) and Council of Deans members Abbey Zink (Humanities and Social Sciences), Mitchell Muehsam (Business Administration) and Ken Hendrickson (Health Sciences).

Other top administrators attending included Doug Greening (Associate Vice President for Facilities Management), Kevin Morris (Director of Public Services), Mrs. Joellen Tipton (Executive Director of Residence Life), Mrs. Lydia Hall (Director of Financial Aid) and Cutty Gilbert (Criminal Justice Administration Associate).

“It was exciting to get to meet the people that make this university run,” senior tennis player Maddie Mortimore said. “Everyone was so interested in what we do as student-athletes and the success we’ve had. And the food was outstanding as well.”

A highlight of the event was a special presentation by Williams on upgrades to the Sam Houston athletic facilities. He targeted both recent additions including new state-of-the-art video/scoreboards at Bowers Stadium,  Johnson Coliseum and the Bearkat Softball complex and the Astro Turf baseball field at Don Sanders Stadium. He also focused on upcoming projects such as the Johnson Coliseum renovation.

“There’s lots of stuff happening right now and it was awesome to hear about it,” Sam Houston senior football player Donald Jackson III said. “This was a great opportunity for all the student-athletes to meet with our university’s top administrators. Everyone had a great time.”

Chris Thompson, Associate Athletic Director for Student Services coordinated the event.

“The athletic department and the student-athletes really appreciate all these top administrators taking time out of their busy days to come spend time with us,” Thompson said. “This is the second year for this event. One of the main purposes for the luncheon is to give our student-athlete leaders the opportunity to gain experience in social situations they may encounter in the business world, something that definitely will help them as they become contributors in the Texas work force.”

Building Champions results in more than winning games, it involves creating well-rounded student-athletes. To do this, resources such as the SAAC Champion Luncheon are important tools in assisting Kat student-athletes accomplish their goals in the classroom and in life. Support the Bearkat Champions Academic Fund to directly impact the future of over 400 student-athletes at the BEARKAT CHAMPIONS ACADEMIC FUND link.