GANSEVOORT, N.Y. - The North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) announced the 2015-16 winners of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) Male and Female Members of the Year awards on Tuesday. Penn St.-Abington senior cross country runner Alex Kane and Penn College senior softball player Nicole LoFurno each garnered this year's awards.
Gallaudet University's rising junior Dakota Kalis (Winter Haven, Fla.) of the men's basketball program was one of three men's honorable mention honorees. Kalis served this past year as Gallaudet's SAAC President.
"It is an honor to be selected as an honorable mention by the NEAC. I want to thank our Gallaudet SAAC representatives, advisor, athletic department and community that helped to make this happen," said Kalis. "I strongly believe that SAAC should be the voice of athletics. We have grown so much throughout the year. I am truly blessed to work with such fine people that have helped to make this organization successful. This honorable mention honor goes to everyone involved. We are all in this together."
The annual awards, which began in 2014-15, were established to recognize the multiple contributions of the SAAC members across the conference. Each school was allowed to nominate one male and one female SAAC member from their institution based on criteria such as their leadership roles within the group, their dedication to community service and their involvement on campus. All nominations were then reviewed and voted on by the SAAC advisors from each of the NEAC’s 14 full-member schools.
As Gallaudet's SAAC President, Kalis took the lead on several important projects. Kalis, a government major and a member of the Bison men’s basketball team, initiated the updating of the campus’ SAAC constitution and bylaws, which are now available electronically with many new additions. He also succeeded in leading Gallaudet's very first SAAC 5K to fundraise for deaf youth sports, which will now become an annual event. Kalis actively pushed for SAAC to become part of Student Body Government's (SBG) recognized organizations, while also meeting with the school’s provost to address concerns with scheduling conflicts for student-athletes. The Gallaudet SAAC became more vocal and recognized on campus and enjoyed success this year largely due to Kalis' leadership and commitment to the Gallaudet community.
GU women's soccer coach Liza Offreda is Gallaudet's SAAC Advisor. Gallaudet's SAAC was one of two recipients of the athletic department's Fan of the Year awards at the annual awards banquet last month.