Christine Portillo is a red-shirt freshman on the University of Minnesota golf team. Not only has Portillo been a leader within her team as a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC), she's already made an impact on the University of Minnesota campus and beyond. With an internship ready to begin and a potential opportunity to be a member of the Big Ten SAAC, Portillo is ready to become a leader on and off Minnesota campus.
GopherSports: You’re a member of the Student Athlete Advisory Council, what responsibilities do you have?
Christine Portillo: I am a team representative for the women’s golf team and I sit in with members from other teams on all of the meetings we have. We hold them the first Monday of each month and talk about NCAA rules, changes, and new community outreach opportunities for our student athletes at the University of Minnesota, as well as different topics that we want to emphasize in the athletic department community and how we can better suit everyone in general.
GS: You’ve also taken initiative and become a member of a committee with faculty members here on campus. What are your responsibilities on this committee?
CP: Yes, I am involved in Intercollegiate Athletics Committee, which is with faculty around all the university, including members from our athletic department administration as well as [Director of Athletics] Mark Coyle sits in on. It’s really great to get to hear his perspective. It’s myself and Tijani Karaborni from the wrestling team as the two student representatives. We talk about different topics happening on the university regarding rules and discuss NCAA legislation. We share our opinions as student athletes, what’s happening in our community, and how that impacts the student athletes.
GS: Is it nice to gather those connections and get a different feel for life outside of athletics?
CP: There are people from all different departments. One of my previous math professors is on the committee so it has been fun to see him again. I also learn about other areas of interest within math, science, English. Someone is also represented from [President] Eric Kaler’s office, so I’ve learned a lot hearing their perspectives on the topics we talk about.
GS: Is there a potential you’ll want to continue this leadership role outside of the University of Minnesota?
CP: I am most likely going to be one of the two Minnesota representatives at the spring 2018 Big Ten conference SAAC meetings in in Chicago this April. I am really looking forward to that, it is going to be a fantastic leadership opportunity to get to meet different people from different schools and learn more about how we can better cater to the student athletes.
GS: You are starting to look for internships, how has that search been going?
CP: We actually have an event, Pro Day, here on campus that our student-athlete development office puts together. At that event, I talked to a lot of different companies and I actually got an internship out of that event. It is starting in the next month working downtown. I am really excited because without Pro Day, I would have never had that opportunity at different companies.
GS: You mentioned volunteering, what has been your favorite event?
CP: My favorite event I did over the summer before my sophomore year was going to Camp Odayin. We actually took a bus all the way up north past Brainerd and we got to work with kids that got to go to camp and that have heart disease, has had heart surgery, or illness. This camp gives them the chance to go to a camp for a week to meet other kids. The camp is off a lake so we played in the water with them, did activities and crafts with them, and learned about their experiences as well as tried to give them hope to focus towards their dreams. It was really special for them to get to know us and we got to know them.
GS: You’re getting ready for the golf season, what can we look forward to from the team this year?
CP: We did a training trip in Florida this past weekend and we are about to go to Tallahassee, Florida for a tournament February 9-11. And looking forward to that. We have a really good schedule set for the spring and I think we have a couple more tournaments after that including California, Ohio, and the Big Ten tournament that we are going to be preparing for. We have really been working hard over this past break—working out, getting stronger, practicing a lot, and focusing on our team culture this year so it has been really exciting and positive environment that we can take to the golf course.
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