KANSAS CITY, Mo. – UMKC’s Director of Athletics Dr. Brandon Martin has announced the creation of the Student-Athlete Athletics Director, a position which will have oversight of the newly renamed Student-Athlete Leadership Cabinet. Previously known as the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), the Leadership Cabinet will provide Dr. Martin guidance from the voice of the student-athlete. This new position and Leadership Cabinet is designed to advance student-athlete well-being, promote engagement opportunities within the campus and Kansas City community, and foster a positive image of the student-athlete demographic.
The initiative to revamp the department’s leadership structure to include the student-athletes is one of the many facets of Dr. Martin’s 100-day vision.
“The vibrant voice of the student-athlete should be a key feature of an athletics department”, said Dr. Martin. “Their well-being, performance, and academic success hinges on coaches and administrators understanding their perspective. Having a Student-Athlete Athletic Director and Leadership Cabinet will allow our department to move forward with a keen eye to the student-athlete experience.”
Anna Lillig, a senior on the UMKC Women’s Soccer team, currently serves as the President of the UMKC’s Student-Athlete Leadership Cabinet. As the President, Lillig was selected by Dr. Martin to serve as the new Student-Athlete Athletics Director, and she will assist Martin in many facets including bridging the gap between student-athletes and athletics administration. Lillig reports, “Our goals as the Student-Athlete Leadership Cabinet are to more fully engage our fellow student-athletes in all areas of the department, from compliance to ticketing to student affairs.”
Additionally, this reorganization of SAAC will welcome the implementation of a Student-Athlete Internal Operations Director and Student-Athlete External Operations Director. These new positions will work closely with the Athletics Department executive staff to collaboratively move the mission of the department forward.
Alli Schomers, sophomore volleyball player and current SAAC executive board member, will serve as the Internal Operations Director and will work with her peers on the following areas: student affairs, diversity and inclusion, compliance, mental health and wellness, postgraduate success, faculty relations and academics. Schomers says that, “our goal for the student-athletes on the internal team will be to strengthen communication and relationships within the department and within campus. We will work to celebrate successes for both current and former student-athletes, and focus on student-athlete overall well-being”.
Brandon McKissic, sophomore men’s basketball player, will serve as the External Operations Director and will work on the areas of marketing, communications, community relations, ticketing, development, and student-athlete events. McKissic is the current SAAC Vice President and notes that “our student-athlete external relations’ team goal is to increase fundraising, brand recognition and engagement for the department, especially at games. We want to develop a bigger, louder student section at home contests filled with all UMKC students.”
Furthermore, each team will have a student-athlete representative responsible for assisting in the fundraising efforts and marketing strategy for their respective teams. The expanded roles of the new Student-Athlete Leadership Cabinet will provide more UMKC student-athletes with advanced leadership opportunities than ever before.
Lillig notes that “It is time to get UMKC on the map as one of the top 100 athletic departments and the student-athlete voice is important. With the help of Dr. Martin, the Student-Athlete Leadership Cabinet will be able to help transform UMKC’s atmosphere. I am very excited and eager to work in collaboration with Dr. Martin and I’m confident he will help take UMKC to the next level.”
With the enhanced inclusion of the student-athlete voice within the department, UMKC Athletics will be at the forefront of student-athlete leadership development.
“Providing new and robust leadership opportunities for our student-athletes allows UMKC Athletics to prepare our students for life after sport,” said Ursula Gurney, Deputy AD/SWA. “Part of our strategic vision is to develop our students holistically and the changes to SAAC will allow us to do so.”
Amelia Howard, Assistant Director of Academic Support and SAAC advisor, notes that “This reorganization of SAAC will not only enhance the student-athlete voice, but it will provide important leadership development and training to our student-athletes. They will be able to strengthen their communication and management skills, and create a larger impact within the department, campus and Kansas City community.”
The first Student-Athlete Leadership Cabinet meeting was held on February 10th. To learn more about the Leadership Cabinet, follow them on Twitter