Johnson & Wales field hockey junior Natalie Rivas will be a member of the first Great Northeast Athletic Conference Commissioner's Council for the 2019-20 academic year.
Rivas will join three other student athlete representatives from across the conference including; Colby-Sawyer College baseball senior Ben Lewis (Needham, Mass.), Emmanuel College men's soccer/men's lacrosse junior Morgan Mercier (Lincolnville, Maine), and Saint Joseph's College of Maine track & field senior Lillian Bisset (Jefferson, Maine). Rivas, a Sports, Entertainment and Event Management major, has 13 goals and seven assists for 33 points in 46 career games for the Wildcats. She has been a three-year member of Johnson & Wales' SAAC.
The leadership team of Rivas, Lewis, Mercier and Bisset will work closely with GNAC national SAAC representative Mikayla Arimura (San Clemente, Calif.), a JWU women's volleyball senior student-athlete, to enhance the GNAC's SAAC efforts and create a communication channel with the conference office and administrators spanning all 13 core member institutions.
Says Rivas: "I'm honored to be serving on the SAAC Commissioner's Council for the GNAC. I hope to have a future career in college athletics or professional sports, and being a D-III athlete has provided me with some of the best experiences and opportunities. As a student-athlete, I want to give back to my university and to the community, and SAAC is the best opportunity for me to do that. I want to make a difference for student-athletes not just at JWU, but for athletes across the GNAC."
Identified as a strategic recommendation stemming from the GNAC's NCAA Conference Self-Study Guide (CSSG) back in 2018, last year the GNAC launched a conference SAAC featuring three student-athletes from each of the league's 13 schools. With the support of the GNAC Presidents' Council, it is part of the conference's plan to further emphasize the student-athlete experience and promote student-athlete success through its strategic planning efforts.
Along with Arimura, the four student-athletes will head to Anaheim this January to attend the 2020 NCAA Convention under the guidance of Commissioner Joe Walsh and GNAC Assistant Commissioner Michael Ghika. The group will also play a role in the upcoming GNAC Fall SAAC Forum at Emmanuel this December, as well as the GNAC Spring SAAC Forum next March in Boston.