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Cardinal Council Looking To Expand Its Role

Varsity Athletes? Formal and?well, yeah, that is pretty much all Cardinal Council has been known for in the past. Varsity Athletes? Formal and? well A change, however, has been brewing at the local Starbuck?s on Stanford Avenue.

Over the summer, a group of approximately 15 student-athletes, representing various varsity teams, have been gathering at the coffee shop for late night meetings (when else do student-athletes have free time?) to shape the future of what they think has the potential to become one of the most effective and fun groups on campus. In the past Cardinal Council: Stanford?s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) has sponsored athletes? formals, youth olympics, and clothing drives while acting as the student-athletes? link to the athletic department. The influence and effectiveness of the Stanford?s SAAC, however, has lagged far behind many of the schools it routinely pounds on the athletic field. Next year?s Cardinal Council, though, is determined to raise the level of Stanford?s SAAC to the level of Stanford?s "on the field" performance.

In 1995, the NCAA mandated that each member institution form a SAAC to ensure that the voice of the student-athlete would not get lost in the crowd. Stanford?s initial reaction was the "Captain?s Council", but the administration quickly discovered that team captains were already overwhelmed and didn?t need the additional responsibility. Version 2.0 opened the council to any varsity student-athlete who wished to participate, but this structure has proved to be flawed as well. With the student-athlete?s plate already overflowing with classes, practice, competition and sleep, SAAC participation has been scarce. The members have had little ownership of the group, and most attendees have considered involvement a chore rather than a privilege. This attitude stands in stark contrast to the schools with the strongest SAACs where membership is considered an honor to represent their team in this way.

This summer, Cardinal Council has completely rewritten its Constitution to draw membership guidelines and assign responsibilities, in hopes that this new structure will allow the members to better respond to issues facing student-athletes. The Council has also identified five primary projects it will work on planning during the upcoming year:

1. Champion Speaker Series
This project has the potential to become one of the great Stanford traditions. Each student-athlete on the Farm is standing on the shoulders of years and years of alumni who have created the Stanford Athletic Legacy, which has become know as the "Home of Champions". Cardinal Council?s vision for the Champion Speaker Series is to organize a student-athlete banquet dedicated to selected alumni who will be invited to speak as the guests of honor.

2. Gold Games
The Gold Games? schedule will include the biggest home game of the year for each team. Each of the Gold Games will be promoted and hyped with the goal of filling the stands with enthusiastic fans when the Cardinal needs it most.

3. Varsity Sports Clinics
Stanford student-athletes have been given much and the Varsity Sports Clinics will provide them with an opportunity to give back to the community, doing what they do best. Cardinal Council will encourage each team to set aside a Saturday afternoon to invite Bay Area youth to the Farm to pass on the skills and knowledge they have gained through years of practice and competition.

4. Buddy Teams
In an effort to build inter-team unity, Cardinal Council has paired each team with another team that competes in another season. The Cardinal Council representatives will organize BBQs and gear exchanges and actively encourage their team to support their buddy team.

5. Student-Athlete Website
Cardinal Council is hoping to create an online community for the student-athletes to gather on the web. The Council envisions a place where student-athletes can post upcoming events as well as messages of good luck and congratulations.

The "Student-Council for Student-Athletes" is planning to meet twice a month to work toward making these dreams a reality and address any new issues that arise concerning the student-athletes through out the year.Michael Bruce is the chairman of Cardinal Council and can be reached at thebruce@stanford.edu.


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