February is the month of giving to your favorite sports team.
The Keene State College Athletics Department and Fenton Family Dealership have partnered for the sixth annual Athletics Giving Challenge. The fundraiser started February 1 and lasts until the end of the month. Despite Owl athletics having been halted for nearly a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Keene State Director of Athletics and Recreation Phil Racicot said fundraising is critical.
“All funds directly impact the student-athlete experience,” Racicot said. “We’re on a pretty limited budget so these funds can go towards uniforms, equipment and practice gear. Anything we can do from a fundraising perspective to offset that cost goes a long way.”
Racicot said the fundraiser is a fun way to inspire friendly competition among the different athletic programs at the college. According to Racicot, the pandemic has heavily impacted teams’ ability to raise funds.
“There’s usually lots of in-person fundraising, but with COVID, we can’t hold alumni gatherings,” said Racicot.
Racicot added that many of the teams are able to raise money through former athletes and alumni of the sports teams. “The pandemic has also affected people’s ability to give and donate. People everywhere are facing employment, financial and health issues which can impact their ability to donate.”
Despite the pandemic making it harder to raise money, the athletic department’s fundraising goal this year is 50% higher than last year’s challenge. Interim Manager of Annual Giving Patrick Shaughnessy said last year’s goal was $20,000 and the department was able to come up with $48,000. Due to last year’s fundraising success Shaughnessy said they increased this year’s goal to $30,000.
“Raising the goal in the middle of the pandemic is risky, but it works out because of our collaboration and great ideas,” Shaughnessy said.
Out of that $30,000 goal, Owl athletics has raised 77% of that goal with over $23,000. Shaughnessy said many of the donors to the giving challenge are past donors and alumni.
“They recognize that despite games not happening, they understand we still need money,” Shaughnessy said.
More than $8,000 of the overall goal has been raised by the men’s soccer program, the victors of last year’s challenge. “Men’s soccer is leading big time in both the number of donors and the amount of dollars raised,” Shaughnessy said. He added that men’s soccer always does well in the giving challenge due to their ability to connect with former players. Men’s soccer head coach Rick Scott agreed.
“One of the reasons we do so well is because we are so closely tied to our alums,” Scott said. “No one else has that consistent connection with alums; we use that to our advantage.”
Scott said the men’s soccer program set their own goal of $10,000 for the duration of the challenge. “We were conservative because of COVID and peoples’ ability to donate. We’ll probably end around $15,000.”
Scott added that before the end of the challenge, they’ve got “a big push going on” as they plan on meeting with groups of 15 on Zoom.
“It makes that request for a donation more personable,” Scott said. “It’s lots of work raising money. It’s not like a ten-minute call, it’s a 30-minute call and that’s great. It allows us to get caught up with our former players.”
The Athletics Giving Challenge enables men’s soccer to have a “first class program,” Scott said.
Racicot said it’s fun to see the different programs set goals for the fundraiser. “In the end it’s about finding that affinity for athletics,” Racicot said.
Those who want to donate to any of the Keene State athletic programs or would like to check on the progress of the fundraiser can do so by visiting keeneowls.com and selecting the 2021 Giving Challenge under fundraising and events.
Update: Right before publishing Owl Athletics surpassed their goal to raise $30,000 for the Giving Challenge.
Hunter Oberst can be contacted at: