SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) announced that Union Catholic junior Chris Buerle has been appointed to serve as an inaugural member of its Student Athlete Advisory Council.
Buerle, who attended the first meeting at NJSIAA headquarters in Robbinsville on August 30, is one of 31 student ambassadors who will have an unprecedented voice in representing the State's student-athletes, who last year numbered 283,00 from 434 member schools.
Student ambassadors were chosen from a field of over 100 applicants, comprised of rising sophomore and juniors. They will serve a two-year term and have the opportunity to voice concerns and bring up issues that impact all student athletes that affect both themselves and their teammates.
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The ambassadors come from all parts of the state. At their first meeting, they listened to several speakers and engaged in various activities designed to foster communication with each other. They then had a chance to voice issues pertaining to student-athletes that affect both themselves and their teammates.
Buerle, who was nominated by UC Athletic Director Dave Luciano, is honored to be on the NJSIAA's first Student Advisory Council.
"It's definitely an honor that Mr. Luciano chose me and it's an honor to have been chosen to be on this council,'' said Buerle, who plays soccer, basketball, and golf and is a Student Ambassador at Union Catholic.
Luciano said that Buerle is a great representative for Union Catholic.
"When it came time to nominate a student athlete, there are tons of student athletes in this building that would have been great representatives of Union Catholic,'' said Mr. Luciano. "I felt that Chris, as a junior and being involved in three sports and someone who is a Student Ambassador in our school, was someone that stood out in my mind. He's not only someone who fit the criteria, but someone who will benefit tremendously from his experience on the council.''
Mr. Luciano applauded the NJSIAA for starting the SAAC.
"I think it's a great step forward by the state,'' said Mr. Luciano. "The student athletes will now have a voice with the heads of athletics in our state, and I think it will open up communication better between student athletes and Athletic Directors.''
The SAAC will meet later this fall and again during the spring at the Woodbridge Community Center. The student ambassadors will lead those meetings, and also attend additional ambassador meetings during the winter and spring in Robbinsville.
The ambassadors are divided into North, Central and South sections, and each of those groups has an adult advisor. They will also communicate with SAAC members from within their section. The adult advisors are retired Secaucus athletic director Stan Fryczynski for the North, retired East Brunswick athletic director Frank Noppenberger for the Central and retired Shawnee athletic director Susan Murphy for the South students.
The ambassadors had a chance to air some of those pressures and concerns during a brainstorming session that was moderated by Fryczynski, who is still the cross country coach at Secaucus and also serves as executive director of the the North Jersey Interscholastic Conference.
Among the issues the ambassadors thought were worthy of future discussion were things related to time management, injury prevention, the pressure placed on them to succeed, sport specialization, social media, nutrition, sportsmanship, fan behavior and more.
"I think for the state to have this council for student athletes is a great idea,'' said Buerle, who lives in New Providence. "It's a great opportunity for our voices will be heard by the people who make all the rules about high school sports in our state. I'm looking forward to trying to help make some positive changes.''