Micaela Velasquez, a middle distance freestyler and team captain for the UCSB swim team, was a natural choice to represent all Gaucho student-athletes at a recent Big West Conference annual meeting in Los Angeles.
“As an athlete, people recognize your accomplishments, yet what they always remember is the kind of person you are, your attitude, character, how you act after a bad race, how you shake your opponent’s hand, and how you cheer on your teammates,” Velasquez says.
On top of serving her fellow student-athletes, Velasquez also volunteers and coaches for several different organizations like Special Olympics and at local schools. She’s been named Presidio Sports’ local Sports Volunteer of the Month.
An all-star member of the Santa Clarita (her hometown) and now Santa Barbara communities, Velasquez just got back from the Big West Student Athlete Advisory Board (S.A.A.B.) Conference that takes place once a year during the summer. The S.A.A.B. group at UCSB is a committee comprised of two student-athletes chosen from each team that represent UCSB’s 20 NCAA sponsored sports.
Micaela, a leader of leaders, was then chosen from that already prestigious group to be one of two UCSB student-athletes representing their school. The student-athlete representatives discuss a variety of topics and issues facing each different school or team, as well as voting on Big West Conference legislation.
As Micaela explains, they “brainstormed ideas to improve their campuses, athletic departments, and athlete experiences,” with the goal to bring back “ideas for present and future student-athletes and opportunities to bring in more fans to athletic events and ways to further excel academically.”
Not only was Micaela chosen as the UCSB S.A.A.B. representative this summer, she was voted team captain for the upcoming season.
Velasquez’ journey began when she was just six years old, in her hometown of Santa Clarita, where she swam with her local summer recreational team and then she continued to swim and compete every summer. After joining her high school team at Valencia High School, it was there that her love of swimming, athletics, and team camaraderie began to develop and flourish.
“I started to enjoy the sport of swimming for more than just physical exercise,” Velasquez remembers. “I loved making friends, creating memories, and setting goals for myself.”
Micaela soon became captain of her high school team during her senior year and it propelled her into training to compete at a collegiate level, where she would be able to “grow into a stronger swimmer and human being.”
Since becoming a Gaucho, Micaela’s passion for the sport has increasingly grown. When she became a part of S.A.A.B., she was immediately “fascinated by the behind-the-scenes work the members did, especially with the community outreach within its community service sub-committee.”
She was quickly voted Administrative Chair, a managerial role in S.A.A.B. where she helps organize fundraising events with local businesses and sponsors for the annual Big West Conference Coin Drive that benefits local charities. Velasquez also works closely with the Adopt-A-Family project at Isla Vista Elementary School during the holiday season.
For the upcoming school year, she was just voted Co-Chair of S.A.A.B., the highest ranking position by her fellow S.A.A.B. members. She is “excited to continue work with the community while representing fellow Gaucho student-athletes and working towards department wide goals.”
Her involvement with Special Olympics started in Santa Clarita, while she was in Junior High School. She became an assistant coach for the swim practices. She continued to work with Special Olympics throughout her high school years as the Assistant Coach for the Santa Clarita Special Olympics Swim Team. She was soon awarded Southern California’s Special Olympics Volunteer of the Year.
To read more please visit: http://presidiosports.com/2014/08/micaela-velasquez-ucsb-student-athlete-takes-on-leading-role/