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Volleyball’s Talia Williams appointed to National SAAC

For the first time in 40 years, the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) will send a delegate from Carleton College to advocate for Division III athletes on the national stage. This January, Carleton’s very own Talia Williams will transition into her new role as a Primary Member on the NCAA’s National Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. 

The appointment is no small feat. A mere 24 student-athletes are chosen biennially to actively participate in the NCAA’s administrative process and recommend legislation affecting Division III’s 188,000 student-athletes. Athletic Directors Gerald Young and Heidi Jaynes nominated Williams to be considered by the MIAC Board of Trustees, who, impressed with her credentials, selected Williams from a competitive pool of nominees put forth by each member school. 

A defensive specialist on the women’s volleyball team, Williams displays a solid track record in student athletic administration. While juggling her role as the President of Carleton’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), she currently serves as an Associate Member to the national committee. She has also represented Carleton as a representative to the MIAC’s student-athlete advisory panel, where she worked closely with the conference’s Special Olympics initiatives.  

A highlight of Williams’ new appointment is her opportunity to participate in the NCAA’s National Convention, a four-day event attended by the committee’s primary members alongside their school’s senior athletic administrators. In light of the ongoing public health crisis, the convention scheduled for next January will be held virtually. Thankfully, since Williams was appointed to a two year-term, she will have the honor of attending the convention scheduled for January 2022 in Indianapolis. Assuming Covid-19 concerns are alleviated by then, she will enjoy the chance to personally network and learn from leaders across the field of collegiate athletics.

Williams conveyed how thrilled she is to represent Carleton on the national stage. “As a Black woman from Carleton, I’m excited to complement the committee’s diversity and adequately represent the values of our college.” She also expressed gratitude towards the NCAA for providing avenues for athletes like herself to be heard. “I appreciate how the NCAA takes the voice of its student-athletes into consideration and provides so many exceptional leadership opportunities.

As this year’s President of Carleton SAAC, Williams plans to “build a tighter athletic community,” through cooperation with the Black Student-Athletes of Carleton (BSAC) and other organizations from the Ujaama Collective, named after the Swahili word for extended family. BSAC was founded over the summer by Carleton’s Black student-athletes in response to the racial turmoil which enveloped the nation following the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. In its mission statement, the organization plans to advocate for the greater inclusion of black student-athletes within the campus athletic community. As of today, two Black coaches and less than 20 Black student-athletes appear on Carleton athletic rosters.

“I applaud BSAC for their initiatives in making sure Black athletes are included in the athletic community moving forward,” said Williams. “It’s unfortunate that we have so few Black coaches and student-athletes at Carleton. Especially when Carleton prides itself on the diversity of its student body. As an athletic community, we need to provide a more inclusive and equitable environment, and I believe that begins with pressuring coaches to broaden their recruiting efforts.”

Other objectives Williams plans to spearhead as President of Carleton SAAC include the creation of a virtual support group, making it easier for athletes across separate teams to connect in the midst of social distancing guidelines on campus. Under her directive, Carleton SAAC is also cooperating with the Career Center to develop a panel where athletes can learn from and network with Carleton athletic alumni. ”I feel like we as athletes should be taking better advantage of the alumni network available to us. Athletic alumni understand what it’s like to be a Carleton athlete, and I believe that can be a starting point to forming valuable relationships,” she mentioned.

It will be exciting to see what Williams can accomplish within the Carleton athletic community and beyond as she carries forward her commitment to diversity and an aura of enthusiasm to the National SAAC committee. “To me, SAAC at Carleton is like a family, and I can’t wait to help foster a similar environment among my new peers from across the NCAA.”

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