Athletics Department Spotlight: Buffalo Bulls

UB’s SAAC wanted to do more with its platform, and over the years has built a community engagement program.

The University at Buffalo student-athletes recently visited Marva J. Daniel Futures Preparatory School in Buffalo for Saturday Academies, a Buffalo Public Schools program that offers activities for its students at select schools every week.

UB freshman center Zena Elias is surrounded by Futures Prep students as they play basketball. 📸: Meredith Forrest Kulwicki

This kind of interaction between UB student-athletes and Buffalo community members has become commonplace, thanks to the UB Student Athletic Advisory Committee’s (SAAC) Bulls in the Community program. The mission of UB SAAC, as well as every other NCAA-sponsored campus SAAC, is to give student-athletes a voice in creating athletic department policies and procedures. SAACs also act as a sort of community center that brings together all of the athletes within an institution’s athletic department.

But UB’s SAAC wanted to do more with its platform, and over the years has built a community engagement program. Organizers of community service projects and events throughout the Buffalo area can now request that UB student-athletes and coaches make an appearance or roll up their sleeves and help out with volunteer work.

Freshman forward Alexis Adams reads a story to students attending the Saturday Academy at the Marva J. Daniel Futures Preparatory School in Buffalo. 📸: Meredith Forrest Kulwicki

“The goal of the Student Athletic Advisory Committee is to allow the students to have a voice in policies, procedures and legislation, but a secondary component to that has become service,” said Kellie Peiper, assistant athletic director for student-athlete excellence. “This program has been a pillar and foundation of the overall development of our student-athletes. It’s just as important as the physical training and the academic piece.

“I think our student-athletes do a really great job of connecting,” Peiper said. “It’s a very grassroots, kind of organic experience that when we’re out there, people have a good experience and the word spreads. It allows them to be real people.”

“It’s fun for us to see the kids and interact with them,” said Marissa Hamilton, a sophomore forward on the women’s basketball team. “I like showing them all the things that sports can do for you and show them a part of our lives. It also gives us a little bit of a break. We love basketball and play it all the time, but sometimes it does feel like a job.”

UB student-athletes Hanna Hall (left) and Alexis Adams (horns up) pose for a photo with Futures students and Mickey and Minnie Mouse. 📸: Meredith Forrest Kulwicki

Like Hamilton, freshman center Zena Elias said the community service work is one of her favorite parts of being a student-athlete.

“I think it’s great to be around the community because you get to know who you’re around and you get to learn more about yourself, while the students get to have fun and experience what their future could be,” Elias said.

Max Glazowski, a member of UB’s track and field and cross country teams, as well as UB’s SAAC community outreach coordinator, agrees that it’s just about making the time to get out into the community, no matter how busy life can be. He believes it’s the duty of UB’s student-athletes to give back because of the blessing they have received in the form of a college scholarship.

“I think we’re blessed with beautiful facilities and an amazing community supporting us,” Glazowski said. “It’s almost out of necessity that we show how grateful we are because a very important aspect of community is that it’s a two-way street.

Courtesy of University at Buffalo