Cougars Challenged: Cougars Conquer

Will Mahan, Scarlet Staff

With a total of $105,394 raised, Clark University Athletics has shattered expectations with its first ever athletics focused fundraising challenge. The week long challenge entitled the Cougar Challenge, proved itself to be a massive success not just in the amount of money raised, but also in the significant donor count. With Clark University’s Women’s Rowing Alumni, Carol Bowen (Class Of 1975) promising an additional $250 to the Clark Athletics team with the most donors, the stakes were high. By the end of the contest, with a cumulative total of 2,034 individual donors; Clark’s sports teams were able to raise a record breaking amount of money, while also competing for which team could receive the highest donor count. The variety of types of donors showed a sign of strength for Clark’s outreach throughout the contest as well. 37% of the 2,034 donors were friends, 22% were students, 19% were alumni, 17% were parents, and 3% were faculty and staff. 

Clark’s Women’s Rowing Team ultimately proved to be the winner in regards to individual donor count, with a shocking number of 378 individual donors having made up their equally impressive $8,563 raised from the challenge. Head Coach of the Women’s Rowing Program had the following to say about the team’s success in the Cougar Challenge, “The rowers train and race out of the public eye so their efforts and successes often go unnoticed. The Cougar Challenge left me feeling grateful, and happy for the athletes. Not just for the dollar amount but for the sheer number of people who support and take an interest in the rowing program. Nicole Missino and the folks in Advancement did a fantastic job putting the challenge together. It was absolutely awesome to see the response from the alumni, parents, friends, the students themselves and our entire Clark community, not just for rowing but all athletics. Funds generated by the challenge will be used to both supplement our budget to help cover always growing operating expenses such as transportation, and help enhance the overall experience had by the student athletes in the form of much needed training equipment and replacement parts.” 

Meanwhile, Clark’s Women’s Soccer Team proved to be the winner regarding the sheer amount of money raised, with a total of $11,165 raised from a total of 299 individual donors. The Scarlet spoke with Head Women’s Soccer Coach Brienne Smith who was shocked with the outcome, Honestly, we are overwhelmed.  We still cannot believe the number of people that got involved.  We were obviously hoping to raise some money but we never would have imagined raising over $11,000. As an alum, I am humbled by how many of my teammates and their families and extended families got involved.  The same families that watched us play back in the late 90’s donated. Twenty years later they still value being a part of the Clark University Women’s Soccer family. And our current players were all in as well.  They had family and friends donating and they were really pushing it on social media. We had a blast watching the number of participants grow well beyond our expectations. I wish there were words to summarize how grateful we are, but I can’t seem to find them. 

A big help in boosting funding for Clark’s sports teams came from generous alumni, family, and friends whom donated on average over $51. The success of the fundraising was, in part, a result of generous individuals giving away thousands of dollars to specific sports teams to try to help them raise money and increase the numbers of donors for Clark’s sports teams. All of the teams at Clark were able to get donation matches and multiply the amount of money they raised in the competition, which significantly helped Clark surpass its ambitious goal of raising more than $100,000 within one week of fundraising.

NCAA competing sports take a whole new level of funding compared to most typical on campus clubs and activities. Whether it is the Cross Country Team in need of funding for new running spikes, or the Soccer Team in need of major funding for transportation. We are headed to Italy this summer to play over there and the funds we raised will go a long way to support the trip.  We will also use the money to subsidize our budget to cover costs like qualified assistant coaches, travel costs, and necessary equipment” (Brienne Smith, Clark University Women’s Soccer Coach). Each NCAA Division III Sport here at Clark, takes a distinct level of funding that the Cougar Challenge has strived to, and successfully met. The Cougar Challenge is a symbolic victory for Clark University Athletics; in both the monumental amount of cash raised during the challenge, and the tightly knit community of alumni athletes and donors that helped propel the Cougar Challenge to ultimately meet, and surpass its goal of raising $100,000.00 over the course of a week. With donations still being received even after the contest has ended, it is no surprise anymore that once again the Cougars challenged convention and conquered!