Campus life director aims to put the student-athlete in the SA

Increased promotion of sporting events could change “non-existent” relationship between SA and athletics

“What can we do outside of just money?”

With a newly elected Student Association (SA) board beginning their term, that’s the question on Melanie Gerin-Lajoie’s mind. To be clear, the manager of athletics and recreation was thankful for the SA’s athletic scholarship contributions over the last two years.

But support of student-athletes can go far beyond dollars and cents, and there is opportunity for growth between the SA and George Brown College’s athletics and recreation department.

The SA funds The Dialog.

First and foremost might be the issue of promotion and getting more bums in seats. Fortunately, fostering greater event awareness was a significant campaign focus for Mercedes Burrowes, the SA’s new director of campus life.

Burrowes ran, in part, on developing a larger sense of community across the college’s campuses. Increased emphasis on trumpeting events beyond the SA’s own is one way she is looking to accomplish it.

“I was finding that in my classes, and when I was promoting what we were doing, other people didn’t know about the events that we were putting on,” Burrowes said.

As far as sports are concerned, the Sudbury native’s aspirations run the gamut of size and spectacle. Aside from broadcasting details on games and tryouts, ideas include pep rallies and incorporating student-athletes into frosh. There’s outside the box thinking such as having an athletic representative on the board, to simply having an SA presence in concessions stands on game day.

With a more visible SA presence at Huskies events, Burrowes said that athletes will know they’re supported and students will be more aware of the games.

Burrowes’ proposals were music to the ears of Zachary McRae, sports information and marketing specialist with athletics and recreation. From a sports information perspective, “non-existent” was how McRae described the relationship between the SA and the department over the last year.

As the communications point man for athletics and recreation, that lack of liaison was a far cry from his ideal.

“Ideally, what I’d like to do is get out the main dates to that representative on the SA, what’s going on in athletics early in the year, and then work in unison with them in terms of promoting,” said McRae, who added that the SA has a different relationship with students than college staff.

Leveraging the SA’s network is something that both McRae and Gerin-Lajoie are interested in, and the timing for increased cooperation couldn’t be better. With planning for 50th anniversary celebrations underway in the athletics department and the college as a whole, 2017-18 is a perfect opportunity for synergy.

In brainstorming an athletics plan of action, one resource Burrowes mentioned was Yuseph Jackman, the SA’s accessibility representative and a student-athlete with the Huskies men’s volleyball team.

Jackman believed the SA will be helpful in bringing out a better crowd next year, and as a varsity athlete, he’s experienced the difference that can make.

“It lets you know that you have someone on your side, you have people backing you,” Jackman said of having a fantastic home crowd. “We go to other schools and we feel that. And then when we’re at our own school, sometimes our crowd is so empty, we’re just like, ‘Why does it feel like we’re still at an away game?’ “

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Campus life director aims to put the student-athlete in the SA