This year saw the manifestation of unprecedented changes to our campus. From online courses to limited social gatherings, nothing has quite been the same. No one knows this better than the athletes at Clark University. The pandemic has caused the cancellation of competitive games and invitationals which means that for many teams, this season is more or less a pre-season for next year. “With everything being canceled it is hard to stay motivated but it gives us time to focus more on the team and our relationship with our teammates,” said student-athlete David Henriques (‘23).
There’s no denying that this pandemic has taken a major toll on our athletes. Despite this however, Clark Athletes have seen a widespread signal of support in this year’s Cougar Challenge event which broke last year’s fundraising records by large proportions. This year, Clark athletes raised $16,326 more than last year. In addition to this, the Men’s Basketball team raised an astonishing $17,325, significantly outperforming the $8,865 they raised last year. According to the Men’s Head Basketball Coach Tyler Simms, this outpouring of support will be key towards building a strong season. “We will be able to upgrade to a new ‘Shoot-a-way’ rebounding/shooting machine, purchase equipment like the Vertimax performance trainer that will help our athletes improve their speed, agility and explosive power as well as buy great Nike gear for practices and for off-the-court wear,” Simms stated.
Adding on to this success story, Clark’s Softball team raised $9,035 from a strong grassroots donor count of 172. This donor count was larger than any team’s number from both this year and last year’s challenge. In discussion with the Scarlet, Head Softball Coach Linda Wage expressed her appreciation for all of the team’s donors. “The softball team is fortunate and grateful to have had the support of 172 donors. Parents and family, alumni, faculty and staff, friends and students all made an unbelievable effort to enhance the student-athlete experience at Clark through the Cougar Challenge. I want to reach out and thank Julie Mazeika DiNicola ’03, our matching donor, who gave Clark Softball a real boost with her early pledge and got the Cougar Challenge rolling for us!” Wage stated.
In the midst of the team’s cancelled competitive seasons, this news brings joy to the Clark Athletics community across campus. Director of Clark Athletics Trish Conan expressed such gratitude in a statement issued to individual donors. “It’s because of your support that we will be able to enhance our student-athlete experiences.” Cronin stated in her video-message.
Outside of the appreciation of Clark Athletics, it is also important to note the contributions made by friends, family and faculty. The Clark community has signified its resounding support behind its student-athletes and in a uncertain time, that means a lot. In particular, many of the matching donors’ efforts helped make this year’s grand sum total possible. “Thank you to all of our alumni, family and friends who generously gave to the men’s basketball program – especially the “Starting Five” of Jay Ash ’83, Kevin Cherry ’81, Bill Mosakowski ’76, Courtney Price Oroszko ’03 and Rob Robledo ’00 whose match launched our fundraising efforts,” said the Men’s Basketball Head Coach Tyler Simms.
Overall the Cougar Challenge marks a symbolic victory just as much as a fundraising one. In an age of cancelled competitive games, this year’s Cougar Challenge is a much needed victory for the student-athletes at Clark. Moving into an uncertain future will be challenging, but with the support of the Clark community, we know that better days are ahead.