FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Northern Arizona University women's soccer player Nicole Sherwin was recently selected as the Big Sky Conference Student-Athlete Advisory Committee national representative. Sherwin has served as Northern Arizona's SAAC President since the fall of 2015 and will now make the leap to give back to student-athletes on a bigger stage.
"When I saw the position was opening, I was immediately interested," Sherwin explained. "Initially, I was worried about the amount of responsibilities I would be adding to my plate, but then realized I have a great support system at NAU between the student-athletes involved in SAAC and other administration. I look forward to learning what other schools are doing to make their student-athlete experience the best it can be and using what I learn at NAU."
Sherwin will be finishing her degree in biomedical science this fall, but will be taking at least another year to complete her psychology degree. For the next year and half, the San Diego, Calif. native will be focused on graduation and serving as the voice of Big Sky Conference student-athletes. It was after attending a leadership conference last spring that Sherwin had the initial itch to stay involved with SAAC as much as she possibly could.
Michael Kallsen, Northern Arizona's Associate Athletics Director for Student–Athlete Development, was the one who originally nominated Sherwin for the position. In Kallsen's mind- whose ultimate job is to develop the life skills, academic skills and character of student-athletes- there was no question she fit the description of a leader who is capable of influencing others.
"Nicole is a leader who can lead from anywhere, but she's also someone that people respect," Kallsen explained. "She leads from the front but also from within the pack, is comfortable getting her hands dirty and will say how things need to be done. She has a strong voice for our student-athlete body; that's really what you want out of your conference representative at the national level."
For Sherwin herself, the decision to take on this new role did not come as easily.
"I originally turned down the position because of my commitment to soccer, but after a series of events and conversations, I decided I wanted to be involved regardless of the adjustments I would have to make," Sherwin said. "I ended up filling out the questionnaire to submit to the Big Sky Conference and was officially accepted in early December."
As the Big Sky representative, the senior will be attending a handful of national events and conferences including a trip to the Final Four in April. Her job is to then educate other Big Sky student-athletes about relevant happenings at the NCAA level. Ultimately, Sherwin hopes to gather any opinions and suggestions from her fellow Big Sky student-athletes to present at the national table.
As someone who wants to one day become a physical therapist or physician's assistant, an opportunity of this magnitude is second to none in Sherwin's mind.
"I think I will definitely gain a greater sense of professionalism through this experience," Sherwin stated. "It will further my experiences collaborating with other student-athletes, improve my ability to represent others and, at the end of the day, those are all skills I'll need for my future career.
Sherwin will dive right in to her responsibilities as the Big Sky SAAC Representative, putting her best foot forward as the voice of Big Sky student-athletes. Between sitting on a board with 31 other conference presidents, attending NCAA meetings, having a part in NCAA legislation and doing community outreach, Sherwin is ready for the opportunity in front of her.
"We have a great candidate," Kallsen noted. "I'm excited to see what she does for the Big Sky."