(PITTSBURGH, Pa.) – All members of the men's and women's tennis teams accepted the challenge given by the Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC) to contribute to their programs and the athletic department. The tennis teams became the first to achieve 100 percent giving this year, in the third year of the challenge.
The statement by the tennis teams comes on the heels of the Student-Athlete Advisory Council achieving 100 percent giving for the third year running. SAAC started the initiative in 2014 and approximately 300 gifts from student-athletes have been received each of the last two years.
"It is amazing that our teams feel so compelled to give back even as current student-athletes," said senior Nicholle Torres. "When Kenny [Zheng] and I were told about the SAAC giving initiative this year, we relayed the message to our respective teams and they were all very eager to help out in any way that they could. We felt that it was important to get the entire team to donate because it shows how much we care about the program. We have had a lot of positive feedback from alumni when they hear that we are donating ourselves, and they feel more compelled to help out.
"I think having the entire team contribute just proves how committed we are to the school and how proud we are to be a Tartan every day," continued Torres. "The combination of having the entire team donate plus being the first team to do so makes me so proud and hopefully this continues after Kenny and I graduate."
Zheng echoed the words by Torres, "It was important to get the entire team to contribute to the SAAC giving challenge because of just how significant the giving initiative is to not only our team but the athletic community as a whole. The tennis teams have been fortunate enough to have received a lot of alumni support like the scoreboard, the endowment fund, and live streaming so we know just how much of an impact donations can have. By having our whole team donate, it shows potential donors that we're committed to our own program."
Support for student-athlete experience is a significant component of the department's recently-adopted strategic plan. Last year, the department set a new benchmark for Andrew Carnegie Society-level gifts ($1,000 or more) to the athletics program. Two new endowed funds were created, a state-of-the-art webcasting system was installed at the tennis facility and the men's soccer program successfully completed the Young Kang Matching Challenge and will head to California next fall for early-season competition. Contributions to the athletics department directly support student experience, which has helped inspire SAAC to prioritize its own commitment.