Taking on a last duty as a student leader at The University of Texas-Pan American, Alex Rodriguez stood on the pitcher's mound, wound up his arm and threw the "First Pitch" that initiated a new tradition at the University.
Rodriguez, outgoing Student Government Association president, turned over his position at the April 15th Broncs baseball game with the symbolic pitch to the newly elected SGA President Stephanie Corte, who will lead the student governing team through the next academic year.
Corte and George Galindo were sworn in as the official 2011-2012 SGA president and vice president, respectively, at a ceremony earlier in the day where they were handed down the gavel that calls each meeting to order.
"Getting to the presidency has been an amazing learning experience," Corte said. "We're so blessed to have had the students vote for us. It's an honor to be able to represent the students from UTPA and to have this position and I'm going to do what I can to do my best."
The idea of "First Pitch" was developed by Rodriguez; Mark Allen, former SGA vice president; and Chris King, athletics director, to publicly show student support for UTPA athletics and involve the student body in a student government transition that ultimately affects them.
"We always do the passing of the gavel, but students never get to see it. That's when Mark and I decided we needed to do something to mark the transition of the officers while involving the student body," Rodriguez said. "We felt 'First Pitch' was the direction to go, especially with what it symbolizes."
Rebecca Gadson, assistant dean of students and SGA advisor, said "First Pitch" served as a symbolic transition for SGA executive officers and senators. The baseball was a representation of the executive team - president and vice president - symbolizing transition as it flies through the air to land in a baseball glove that was signed by all current SGA senators because they are the ones that provide the firm foundation for the executive team and hold the SGA together, Gadson explained.
"We don't have enough traditions at UT Pan Am. I think we need to start all sorts of traditions and it was brilliant of SGA to come up with this idea," said UTPA President Robert S. Nelsen. "This is just the start and we will come up with more. This will be one tradition we will absolutely continue."
The entire transition was bittersweet for Rodriguez. He said he is going to miss everything and everybody and that he is proud of what he and Allen were able to accomplish during their term and to see some of their ideas and plans come to life such as "First Pitch."
"I'm nostalgic ... everything has winded down, but it's been a great journey. And I'm not worried because I know SGA is going to be in good hands," Rodriguez said. "I'm excited for Stephanie. She is such a fast learner, has so much ambition and is always willing to listen. I think she's going to do great."
Nelsen said both Rodriguez and Allen have accomplished a lot and set the bar high for future executive teams. He said Corte and Galindo now have to go out and do as much if not more and he's confident they will.
Corte and Galindo have many goals they want to accomplish during their one-year term. Corte said first they must address the cost of education and the impact of budget cuts and see how they can help students in those areas. In addition, they want to focus on their three main platform goals: school spirit, personal and academic growth in students and future career and life accomplishments outside of UTPA.
"School spirit is a big thing George and I believe in," said Corte. "So 'First Pitch' was a great way to incorporate that and to bring school spirit and traditions to UTPA. It was a big night for SGA."
Earlier in the week, SGA also hosted their annual banquet to honor and recognize the contributions of outgoing senators and of individuals and offices on campus that helped SGA throughout the year to be successful.
For more information on SGA, visit their website.