Winter update from AD Larry Williams
First, and most importantly, Merry Christmas to you all. The absolutely tragic events that recently occurred in Newtown, CT is yet another sobering reminder of how precious life is. My hope is that the Christmas season allows you to take some time with those special to you.
Well I am coming up on my first anniversary with Marquette University, and it has been exciting. You probably have now seen the official announcement that Marquette and six other like-minded non-FBS schools are separating from the Big East and will form the core of a new league. I have staunchly supported such a move. In short, it allows us to control our destiny rather than have it dictated to us. You should know that Father Pilarz has been an active participant in these leadership discussions. He is keenly motivated to put our student athletes in the best position possible to achieve success, as he places great value in the contribution they make to our community. It was gratifying to hear many say that finally, among all this uncertainty, some schools are making a move for the right reasons. I am pleased to report that there is much excitement from media partners and others as to the future of such a league. I will certainly share details as they become available over the next few months. Initial feedback from our alumni and fans has been overwhelmingly supportive.
What makes Marquette an attractive partner in the new conference being formed as well as in all of our past associations has been the strength of all of our sports. This fall very few schools in the country enjoyed the levels of success that we did here at Marquette.
The always-remarkable women's soccer program dominated Big East competition, and the classroom. On the pitch they showed poise and grit in capturing the regular season and tournament crowns. Their run to the sweet sixteen in the NCAA Championships was stellar, with only one penalty kick by BYU halting an even deeper run.
Speaking of grit, the men's soccer side was also remarkable. Coach Louis and, as he calls them, the lads, spent the majority of the year in the conversations about the best squads in the country. Know that these young men have displayed an uncanny focus on building a successful program. And they are well on the way. Achieving a bye in the first round of the NCAA Championships was a great milestone for the program.
And how about the consistent growth of our women's volleyball program. Again they earned a spot in the NCAA Championships after capturing second place in the Big East regular season and post-season tournament. We hosted that tournament in the AMC, and I know you would have all been proud when the Academic All-Conference members were introduced at the banquet - let's just say Marquette was really well represented!
Basketball is well underway now and things look promising. The men's team has played (and thanks to a meteorological phenomenon commonly called evening dew - who knew? - were not been allowed to play) in some marquee games. I am quite confident both squads will round into shape nicely before conference play starts.
So again, Merry Christmas, and Go Marquette!
Vice President and Director of Athletics
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New donor recognition program is a win-win!
Generosity, Gratitude and Excellence.
Marquette Athletics is privileged to introduce a new donor recognition program for our generous fans and friends: the Circle of Excellence.
Benefactors can earn membership in the Circle of Excellence with an annual gift of $10,000 or more to our Blue & Gold Fund or one of our sport-specific funds, the establishment of a $50,000 endowed scholarship for student-athletes, or by being a basketball season ticket-holder with cumulative contributions to the university of $250,000 or more.
Membership entitles Circle of Excellence benefactors to exclusive benefits in addition to those they may already enjoy, including:
- Access to The Marquette Room, our new VIP hospitality venue for all home men's basketball games at the BMO Harris Bradley Center
- Invitations to unique and exclusive engagement opportunities with Marquette Athletics Director, Larry Williams, and team head coaches
- Priority access to purchase parking at men's home basketball games
- Priority access to purchase men's basketball regular season away game tickets as well as tournament tickets to the Big East and NCAA (based on availability).
- Recognition at athletic events and in athletic publications
- Membership and recognition in the Marquette University President's Society
Beyond these benefits, Circle of Excellence members have the satisfaction of knowing they are playing a significant role in advancing Marquette's outstanding Athletics program as well as the university itself.
To date nearly 90 individuals or families have joined the Circle of Excellence. If you'd like to become a member or learn more about the Circle of Excellence, please contact Mark Wright, Managing Director of Development, Athletics, at 414-288-4468 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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"The pursuit of athletic excellence requires exceptional resources," explains Marquette Director of Athletics, Larry Williams. "To remain competitive on the national stage, the generosity from many alumni and friends is critical in helping us attract, recruit and retain exceptional student-athletes and coaches."
A Right to Dream with C. Nortey.
His first name is Cadowuona, but you can call him the leading scorer of the 2011 MU Men's Soccer team, or the unanimous choice for the 2011 BIG EAST All-Rookie team, or simply "C."
You also can call him the ideal Marquette student-athlete, even though his childhood was anything but.
Sophomore C. Nortey spent the first 16 years of his life growing up in Ghana, where playing "football" (American soccer) at the professional level is every boy's dream. And so it was for C.
Beyond the thrill of competition and pure love of the sport, playing professional soccer is one of the only ways to succeed in an impoverished country, where education beyond middle school is as rare as eating three square meals a day.
C.'s Soccer Dream
- At age four, C. began playing street soccer for fun with the boys from his hometown of LaBadi.
- By age 10, he began playing competitively when a local coach--impressed with C.'s talent as a goalie--formally registered him as a player on the Mandala Football Club (FC).
- When C. was 12, the Right to Dream Academy based in Ghana acquired his playing card from the Mandala FC.
Tough realities were behind this seemingly easy rise among Ghana's soccer ranks.
C.'s typical day as a schoolboy was a long one. The oldest male in his family's house, he would often wake up at dawn to sell tomatoes for at least two hours before going to school; when classes ended, he would go to three-hour soccer practices. The ability of his mother and four younger siblings to eat three meals rather than only two hinged on whether he sold tomatoes on a given day or slept in.
And C.'s own health and opportunity to live better hinged on his soccer success. He knew it, and so did his family. They were extremely happy when Right to Dream recruited C. as a goalie because for him it meant eating regular, nutritious meals and snacks; living in quarters far better than his family's dwelling; earning a good education; and improving his soccer skills--the ticket to a successful career.
Right to Dream Academy is the creation of British social entrepreneur Tom Vernon. He founded the charity-based institution in 1999 after recognizing how sports can make a positive difference in the social development of talented, underprivileged Africans and their communities. Each year, academy representatives travel throughout the ten regions in Ghana, selecting 20 to 30 young soccer players for development not only athletically, but academically and socially as well.
Though C. had earned the privilege of attending Right to Dream over the course of four years, his soccer dream was ultimately crushed: academy staff told him he was too short to play professionally as a goalie.
Fortunately, a new dream surfaced. C., who had always done well in school, was placed on a college-bound track at the academy. Through its links with schools in the U.S. and U.K., Right to Dream offered C. a scholarship to attend The Hotchkiss School, a prestigious, co-educational boarding school in Lakeville, Connecticut, whose graduates go on to attend some of the most selective colleges and universities.
C. recalls the immense pride and happiness of his mom, two brothers and two sisters, who jumped up and down when he told them about this college-prep opportunity--although he first had to explain what college is.
C.'s New Dream
Staying alive and healthy had been C.'s main goals growing up in Ghana. But in the U.S., Hotchkiss opened a whole new world of opportunity that went well beyond basic survival. He admits overextending himself--joining different clubs; singing in the Gospel choir; participating in track and field; traveling to Chicago and seeing new things while enjoying breaks with his American host family; and of course, doing all while keeping up with his studies and playing soccer. In his new offensive role on the soccer field, C. began drawing attention in newspapers and on the Internet. He was living life large in the U.S. And then at the end of freshman year, his mom died.
C. traveled home to Ghana for the funeral. Appreciating the void left in the lives of his younger brothers and sisters and seeing again what it was like to struggle with basic needs such as food, C. wrote a letter to John Powers, who oversaw the Right to Dream kids at Hotchkiss. The letter explained how C. would not return so he could help his family. But his uncle saw the letter before it was sent and admonished C.: "You must do well in the U.S. You must represent the Right to Dream, your family and Ghana; do not disappoint us--go back." Charged with doing well in the U.S. for the sake of family and country, C. recalls how he realized another responsibility: to do well for himself because it is "the healthy thing" to do.
C. returned to Hotchkiss for the next three years, finishing strong--academically and athletically. At the end of his junior year, he was drawing the attention of college soccer coaches, including four Division I and four Division III schools. Much different than deciding to sleep-in versus sell tomatoes, C. had choices to make about his future.
Eventually winnowing out Bucknell, Connecticut College and Binghamton University, it came down to Syracuse and Marquette. MU Coach Louis Bennett had heard about C. from John Powers at Hotchkiss and made the trip to observe the senior when Marquette Soccer was on the coast playing Connecticut. C., who had no idea he was being watched, was surprised when Marquette offered him a scholarship. He visited Milwaukee and liked the campus, the team, the coach--whom C. notes is similar in style to Right to Dream's Tom Vernon--and the fact that Marquette is close to his host family in Chicago. With encouragement from his Hotchkiss track teammate and friend Derrick Wilson, who was at the same time thinking about attending Marquette on a basketball scholarship, C. decided on MU.
His stats as the only freshman to play all 19 games for Marquette in 2011 speak to the difference he makes on the field.
But there are much bigger differences to consider.
C. explains simply:
"Without my scholarship, I would be back in Ghana, forced to start over without a college degree; I would not get a good job. My scholarship gives my family hope. They know I will get a good job after Marquette, and I will be able to help them--including my younger brother who wants to continue his education beyond middle school....If I could hug my scholarship donor, I would."
And then there's the difference a humble, hard-working, grateful student-athlete like C. can make beyond his family, given his wide-ranging future goals. These include broadening his current studies in social justice, perhaps becoming a school counselor or college soccer recruiter in the U.S., with the ability to send money home to his family and visit regularly. Or perhaps he might return to Ghana and establish a residence that takes care of people who come to do service work in his country. But then there's the dream that got him to the U.S. and MU in the first place. C. knows that MU Soccer can get him exposure and if he trains hard, listens to his coaches and gives it his all, he just might fulfill his boyhood dream of playing professionally.
Whatever C. Nortey might choose to do, you can call him a success. Back to top
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Be the Difference: Bryan Ciesiulka
Bryan Ciesiulka, a junior midfielder on the Marquette men's soccer team, is coordinating a service event through the Feed My Starving Children non-profit organization. With support from the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, Bryan is fundraising the money needed to purchase 100,000 meals, and organizing a staff of 500 volunteers to help pack the food, which will be shipped to hungry children all over the world. To learn more about Bryan's efforts, click here.
Compliance Corner: Who is a Representative of Athletics Interests?
You Are If:
YOU EVER were or currently are a member of any group which support specific athletic teams.
YOU EVER contributed to any Marquette University athletics program or team.
YOU EVER purchased season tickets for any sport.
YOU EVER participated as a Marquette varsity student-athlete or are a Marquette alum.
YOU EVER helped to arrange employment for enrolled student-athletes during the summer or semester break.
YOU HAVE EVER promoted any Marquette University athletics program.
According to NCAA rules, once an individual has been identified as an institutional representative of athletics interests, the individual retains that title FOR LIFE. Marquette is ultimately responsible for the acts of all representatives of athletics interests in relation to NCAA rules and regulations. So please, ASK BEFORE YOU ACT!
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