The Council of Student Athletes (CSA) knew it was time to build their presence as a club among fellow athletes. The need for a major event inspired Erica Wadell, CSA member and soccer athlete, to begin developing ideas for something spectacular to would bring athletes together.
This became a reality with the First Annual CSA Gala and Social on April 15 at The Nursery by Southwinds.
According to Associate Athletics Director Mike Teague, the CSA is a leadership and advocacy group comprised of two representatives from each athletic team. As described by Teague, it provides a space for student athletes to advocate for themselves while also serving the outside community.
Despite being an active group for two years, CSA has been on a very low radar within the athletics and the student body. Members felt it was time to create a stronger presence among athletes in a big way.
“This particular group wanted to do an end of the year type of thing that is not like our [awards] banquet,” Teague said.
Wadell submitted several ideas for an event to club president and soccer teammate Natalie DeVries. Wadell, DeVries and a small group of athletes worked tirelessly to ensure the event’s success. As senior athletes, planning an event on this large of a scale was not an easy task.
“It’s really stressful, but knowing that what you’re doing is bigger than yourself…and trying to make something huge happen in the athletic department motivated me,” Wadell said.
From Wadell and DeVries’ creativity and collaboration, they were able to deliver an event with 125 guests, including athletes and chaperones.
The Gala also presented an opportunity for the CSA to engage with the greater community outside of Vanguard. Both Wadell and Teague credit the generous donations of vendors, including the event venue, that were excited to work with the CSA and helped make the event possible.
With the huge success, the CSA’s goal is to continue this event in the future despite current leaders preparing to graduate. Wadell considers the Gala as the first legacy and tradition from the CSA.
The council also hopes to have more activities that include athletics, the student body and the community of supporters outside of Vanguard. Wadell also states that the CSA plans to implement more activities and incentives for all spectators, which essentially builds a better overall experience for everyone.
“The goal of the CSA is to really take what our leaders have given us and bring it to our peers so that everyone can enjoy the experience of athletics at Vanguard,” Wadell said.
A few weeks after the Gala, Wadell is content with the outcome and is excited for the future years.
“The biggest reward for me was seeing everybody else have a great time…and we just saw the fruit of our labor come into fruition,” Wadell said.