SUNY Oswego Athletics can officially put the first-ever Lakers Athletics Challenge in the record books. Surpassing the initial goal of 400 alumni-athlete donors only halfway through the challenge, alumni-athletes continued to impress.
By the end of the four-month fundraising challenge, a total of 619 alumni-athletes, current and former coaches and current student-athletes donated $85,562 to SUNY Oswego.
At the 400 donor mark, Dan Scaia ’68, a member of the 1966 men’s championship soccer team and Oswego Alumni Association board member, gave $25,000 to the Athletics Department to establish the Dan Scaia ’68 Student Athlete Excellence Fund that directly benefits student-athletes.
“The Lakers Athletics Challenge exceeded my expectations,” Scaia said. “Thank you to everyone who participated and to Nancy Smith Salisbury ’93 for offering an additional gift to ensure the success of the first-ever challenge. It is such a wonderful feeling to see our alumni stepping up and giving back to Oswego State.”
After the college secured the initial 400 donors in Scaia’s challenge, Salisbury, a member of the women’s field hockey team from 1989-92 and former Oswego Alumni Association board member, issued a second challenge. If a total of 600 current and former athletes made gifts, she would give $15,000 to The Fund for Oswego.
“I loved providing the motivation for a late-game rally in this challenge,” Salisbury said. “I knew my fellow Lakers would step up to meet the new goal. As athletes, we’re naturally competitive, and this was a fun way to use that drive to benefit the college and keep us in the game—long after some of us have retired our green and gold jerseys!”
To spur the challenge, the men’s and women’s teams with the highest alumni participation rate would each receive $1,000. In the end, the men’s swimming and diving team and the women’s basketball team had the highest participation rates, with 15.1 and 14.4 percent, respectively.
“Our alumni-athletes are competitive, so this was a great way to get them engaged with us,” said Sue Viscomi, Oswego’s athletic director. “They could follow the progress online and see whose team was leading. We’re very pleased with the results, and we are very appreciative of everyone’s participation and especially grateful to Dan Scaia. His gift will enhance our leadership programming for our student-athletes.”
In total, the Lakers Athletics Challenge raised $125,562 to support success in competition, in the classroom and in the community.
“We are grateful to our alumni-athletes, current student-athletes and our current and former coaches who showed their Lakers pride and participated in this challenge,” said Joy Westerberg Knopp ’92, director of annual giving. “Gifts to The Fund for Oswego support our student-athletes on and off the field as well as a range of other programs.”