National Guard To Be Lead Sponsor For Ferris State Athletics In 2013-14

Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University Athletics Department has announced an extensive partnership with the National Guard to be the Bulldogs' lead sponsor for the 2013-14 athletics campaign. 

FSU and the Michigan Army National Guard, which have partnered together for the last four years, recently signed a new contract which makes the local National Guard unit the biggest cash sponsor ever for Bulldog Athletics. 

In exchange, the National Guard will receive an extensive sponsorship and advertising package that includes signage, public address announcements, social media recognition, on-field and on-ice promotions, dasher boards, in-ice logos and more. They will also be the presenting sponsor for the popular "Ferris State Friday's" segment that airs on WBBL 107.3 FM in Grand Rapids each Friday morning during the fall and sponsor collateral material such as posters and schedule cards. 

An additional part of the package includes the National Guard as the official sponsor of the "Dawg Pound" hockey student section, which exceeded its original capacity a year ago with more than 600 student season ticket packages sold before the first home contest. 

"We're thrilled about having the National Guard as our lead sponsor for what should be an extremely exciting year in Bulldog Athletics," said Associate Athletics Director Jon Coles, who oversees the department's marketing efforts. "They've been a tremendous partner for us in recent years and this new contract will allow us to expand those efforts. We appreciate their support and commitment to Ferris State Athletics." 

The Michigan Army National Guard runs the Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) program on the FSU campus in Big Rapids. The Army ROTC is the premier leadership course in the country and part of the college curriculum. Upon graduation, officers are commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Active Army, Army Reserve or Army National Guard. More than 20,000 cadets are currently enrolled across the country with up to 100% tuition assistance offered. 

The original partnership with the National Guard came under the leadership of SGT Shawn Fries, who served as the National Guard Recruiter on campus. That role is now being filled by fellow SGT Stan Pelak, who helped complete the partnership deal. 

"This partnership between the National Guard and Ferris State Athletics is a win-win situation for both parties," SGT Pelak said. "We're excited about having the opportunity to significantly impact the athletics program while at the same time receiving tremendous marketing exposure thru Bulldog Athletics." 

As part of the sponsorship agreement, the National Guard will be the Bulldogs' official facebook sponsor at facebook.com/ferrisathletics, which currently has more "like's" than many of the other in-state Division I schools such as Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Oakland and Detroit. In addition, they will be an active sponsor of the school's official athletics website at FerrisStateBulldogs.com where more than 5,000 people visit on a daily basis during the season. 

The increased exposure for the National Guard comes as the Bulldogs embark on what should be an exciting gridiron campaign this fall in year two under football head coach Tony Annese, who inked one of the nation's top recruiting classes this spring following several signature wins a year ago. 

They'll also be a primary sponsor for Bulldog Hockey as FSU embarks on its initial season in one of the nation's most historic conferences, the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA), in the 2013-14 campaign. Ferris State has increased hockey attendance five consecutive years to date and sold out 11 times overall dating back to the second half of a historic 2011-12 season in which FSU reached the national championship game at the NCAA Frozen Four. 

"The National Guard recognizes the value of partnering with Ferris State Athletics and the benefit they'll receive from maximum exposure," said Coles. "Their role as the lead sponsor will have a significant impact on our program as we continue to build championship teams both on and off the playing surface." 

During home football Saturday's, the National Guard will also handle the Ferris State Queens Court, which will raise the flag at every home game and shoot the cannon after every Bulldog touchdown. The ROTC and National Guard will be spotlighted every hockey home game during the National Anthem with the presentation of the colors. 

For more information on the Army ROTC program at Ferris State, please contact SGT Pelak at (231) 591-5321 or by email at stanley.pelak@us.army.mil. The National Guard also holds an office on campus in Bishop Hall room 621.

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