Many Saint Mary’s student-athletes do not hail from the namesake state of the MIAA. Junior soccer player Kaitlin Teichman, however, continues to forge a connection with the college and with the conference named after her home state of Michigan while growing into the leader she has become.
A Dean’s List student and MIAA Academic Honor Roll recipient, Kaitlin is a nursing major who is a member of the Saint Mary’s Student Nurses Association. She spent last year’s spring break on a service trip to Honduras, and she is very involved with both the Saint Mary’s and MIAA Student-Athlete Advisory Committees (SAACs).
"I knew very few details about the MIAA when I first arrived at Saint Mary’s," said Kaitlin. The Grand Rapids, Mich., native went on to add, "I knew the majority of the schools, but I did not think I would ever end up getting to know all the schools or the conference so well."
Currently, Kaitlin serves as the president of the MIAA SAAC and
relishes the opportunities it has presented. From forming
connections with other student-athletes in the league to working
together with her peers on forming positions that influence the
decisions made in collegiate athletics in and beyond the MIAA, it
has all enriched her experience as a student-athlete.
"I love to see members of the MIAA SAAC excited about sharing ideas in the league and how that will improve the experience for themselves and future student-athletes," said Kaitlin (pictured at right with SMC swimmer Genevieve Spittler at an MIAA SAAC retreat last fall). "It is easy to focus on your school and your issues. But it also gives us the opportunity to recognize the similarities and the differences between athletics at each college and, ultimately, understand that your opponent is just like you. Winning is important, but not as important as the principles of sportsmanship."
Away from her leadership role within the conference, Kaitlin feels a sense of pride in the level of play and talent seen across the nine member institutions of the MIAA, particularly in her sport. She has experienced a learning curve since first joining the ranks of the MIAA as a soccer player for Saint Mary’s in the fall of 2010. But like everything else that has come her way, she has taken the learning in stride while helping turn around the Saint Mary’s soccer program.
Her freshman season, the Belles soccer team posted a 3-16 overall record and a 1-7 mark in league contests. The following year, the team had a six-and-a-half game improvement with a 10-10 record and was tied for the seventh among most improved teams in all of NCAA Division III women’s soccer. This past fall, the Belles broke numerous school records including the most wins by a team in program history while finishing 13-5-2 overall and 10-5-1 in MIAA play.
“I feel connected to the conference, which has made playing in and for the conference more meaningful,” added Kaitlin. “The fact that the league was so challenging this year shows that we have a very successful league with a high level of play - a level of play that includes Saint Mary’s College. We are not just members of the MIAA - we are competitors in the MIAA.”