James Gehrels, a senior on the men's
volleyball team, has truly made waves throughout his time here at Pepperdine.
Besides his achievements on the court, he's a three-time Pepperdine scholar-athlete,
co-president of the Waves Leadership Council and a member of the NCAA national
Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. His most recent accomplishment was being
named NCAA Division I SAAC Vice Chair. He talks a little bit about what this
means as well as his future goals and plans:
Q: So what does this position of NCAA Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee Vice Chair look like for you?
A: As Vice Chair of DI SAAC I work with three other student-athletes and some NCAA staff members to help guide, plan and facilitate everything that the 32 student-athletes on the committee do. These responsibilities include planning out meetings and strategically prioritizing our goals and objectives for the next year.
Q: What does it mean to you to have this title?
A: I am extremely humbled and excited to have been elected to this position. I have represented the student-athletes of Pepperdine and the West Coast Conference for the past two and a half years and now to be able to serve them in this role for another year is an incredible honor.
Q: How did attaining this title come about?
A: At the most recent NCAA Convention in Nashville there were elections that were held for vice chairs for this coming year and I was fortunate enough to be selected by my fellow committee members.
Q: What are you most looking forward to accomplish within the position?
A: I'm most looking forward to being able to have an even greater impact on the lives of all Division I student-athletes both current and in the future as well. The decisions that our group helps make will impact the lives of those to come, which is an incredible honor but also a great responsibility.
Q: Since this is your senior year, is this a position you'll pass on to someone else after you graduate?
A: This position of Vice Chair isn't something I pass down, however serving as the West Coast Conference representative is something that another student-athlete will be elected to following the 2017-2018 school year. (Note: national SAAC rules allow Gehring to serve as Vice Chair for 2017-18, even after his graduation and final competition as a student-athlete.)
Q: How did being a Wave help you get to such a prestigious national position?
A: I wouldn't be in the position I am today without all of the help and support that I have received from Pepperdine Athletics and the university as a whole. Being able to represent Pepperdine in this way is an incredible experience and something I will be forever grateful for. It truly has given me a platform to have an impact on our campus here in Malibu, but also the ability to spread what makes Pepperdine such an incredible and special place to others around the country.
Q: What is your favorite memory to date about working with the Pepperdine, conference and/or national SAAC committees?
A: There are so many amazing memories that it is nearly impossible to put my finger on one or another, but a couple that really stick out would be attending NCAA conventions or the NACDA and Affiliates convention, and of course our #RefueltheWaves crowdfunding campaign which raised funds to directly impact our meal and refueling options here in athletics.
Q: Any plans for what you want to do after graduation (and does athletics factor in at all)?
A: I plan to hopefully attend grad school upon graduation and study Sport Management and Business Administration. I ultimately want to get into collegiate athletic administration one day by becoming a director of athletics. I hope to get there by fundraising and building relationships and continuing to improve the student-athlete experience along the way.
Q: Do you have any other reflections as you look back on your time here at Pepperdine?
A: I'm just so thankful for my coaches and administrators here at Pepperdine who have helped open doors for me to be successful well beyond my time here at Pepperdine. Those relationships and friendships I have made will last a lifetime and for that I am forever grateful.