Ferris State Athletics Continues To Build Strong Community Partnerships

Ferris State Athletics Continues To Build Strong Community Partnerships

By Nichole Boehnke

Big Rapids, Mich. – The Ferris State University Athletics Department continues to make a significant contribution to the community through various charitable and volunteer organizations.

Recently, the athletics department has continued to serve in several partnerships with non-profit organizations including Eagle Village, the Salvation Army, Women’s Information Service, Inc. (WISE), and the Big Rapids Public Schools.  Several FSU student-athletes and teams also assisted with the "Bulldogs In Action" move-in effort at the start of the school yar.

"We're always excited to partner with various non-profits in the area and teach our student athletes the importance of giving back,” Associate Athletics Director Jon Coles said. “Our student athletes realize the support Big Rapids provides us and they feel grateful to do whatever they can to repay this outstanding community." 

Below are highlights of some of FSU's recent community endeavors: 

Women's Information Services, Inc.

The Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), which is formed of representatives from the various athletics teams at Ferris State, has played a role in the Bulldogs’ charitable endeavors. They recently organized a donation plan with WISE to collect over 500 pieces of soap and 300 bottles of shampoo from hotels the teams stay in while traveling for games.

WISE is a non-profit organization that provides safety and support to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Their goal is to strengthen the community through awareness, prevention, and education. 

Another big project SAAC looks forward to is fundraising for the Make-A-Wish Foundation on an annual basis as part of a NCAA Division II initiative.

“This year SAAC has joined with Northwood University to support a child with Make-A-Wish to fulfill his dream and send him to the Super Bowl,” sophomore student-athlete Amanda Mathy, a member of SAAC, said. 

Eagle Village: 

Mathy became a member of SAAC as a representative of the women’s soccer team. She will play alongside her team in an exhibition game on October 6 after the game with Malone at noon to support their partnership with Eagle Village.

Eagle Village is an organization that works with individuals aging from 11-17 years old who are abused, neglected, or at-risk. Some of the residents are working home games as ball chasers.

FSU women’s soccer head coach Andy McCaslin has also set up fundraising for They Often Cry Outreach (TOCO), a U.S non-profit organization with a mission to raise awareness and to improve the lives of underprivileged, at-risk and orphaned children.

“Our fundraising for TOCO and the work with Eagle Village mean a lot to the team,” McCaslin said. “We are excited for the exhibition match and are fortunate to be able to meet and contribute anyway we can to Eagle Village.”

Advancement Officer for Eagle Village, John Ruggles, works directly with the residents and saw this partnership as beneficial to both sides.

“Eagle Village has decided it would be beneficial and fun for residents to be on campus. Letting them talk with students would help them begin to form an image of the reality of becoming a college student,” Ruggles said.

The home football game on Nov. 2 against Wayne State will also serve as Eagle Village Day at Top Taggart Field. During halftime, a video produced by Central Michigan University’s media department will be featured. The video will include awareness and information on prevention and how to help. Throughout the game there will be hand-outs and further information about how community members and Ferris Sate students can help, donate, and become a mentor.

Salvation Army:

Another important day at Top Taggart Field will be on Nov. 16 when the Bulldog football team hosts Northern Michigan with the contest serving as the Salvation Army’s Kettle Kick Off.

Before every home game, the Salvation Army will be hosting a Madden Tournament with participants playing Madden 25 on Playstation 3. The winner from each home game competition will qualify for the championship tournament during the last home game of the year to compete for a top prize. The event is free.

Chris Vallette, who’s the development director for the Salvation Army of Big Rapids, helped organize this event. Vallette will be running a booth at the games with additional information on other programs and events run through the Salvation Army.

“We want to connect with the community and Ferris students. We are excited about the opportunity to meet students on campus,” Vallette said. “We have set a goal for the Kettle Kick Off of $5,000. We will be accepting donations at our booth.”

The Salvation Army is also promoting Bell Ringer Signup days at this event for student volunteering. The Red Kettle Campaign continues through December.

Big Rapids Public Schools:

Additionally, FSU Athletics has also continued its volunteer efforts off campus by reaching out to the children in the Big Rapids Public Schools. This will be the fourth consecutive year in which teams will help chaperone middle school activity nights.

“I love how Ferris State Athletics works with us in the community to keep us connected. The student-athletes are sincerely interested in trying to get our kids involved in doing something. They have been fun, mature, and interactive,” said Lenore Weaver, Big Rapids Middle School Principal.

Wheatlake Cancer & Wellness Fund:

This year, Ferris State Hockey will also host its first ever “Pink in the Rink” game on Oct. 19 against St. Lawrence. The night will help raise awareness for the fight against breast cancer. Funds raised will be donated to the local Susan P. Wheatlake Cancer & Wellness fund. 

The game is supported and sponsored by General Mills-Yoplait. The contest starts at 7:05 p.m. (ET) in the Ewigleben Ice Arena and will be yet another of the many charitable efforts Ferris State Athletics contributes to throughout the year.