Alumni Follow Lead of Jack Cummins to Create Soccer Alumni Scholarship
Sept. 16, 2011
A record-breaking number of soccer alumni, men and women, returned for a thrilling Sunday of soccer on Sept. 11. The day was filled with memories of the past and nearly 50 alumni got to check out the current state of Blue Demon soccer.
The alumni were treated to a pair of dramatic overtime matches with the women defeating Minnesota 2-1 on freshman Sarah Gorden's golden goal in overtime while the men battled with No. 4 Creighton for 108 minutes before falling 1-0 in a double-overtime heartbreaker.
The biggest impact on the day wasn't the reliving of past glories. Alumni Day 2011 will be remembered as a day that brightened the future of DePaul men's soccer and continued the significant steps forward the program has taken under Craig Blazer's leadership.
Behind the leadership of soccer alumnus Jack Cummins (LAS '88; LAW '92) and a leadership group of 10 men's soccer alumni, the first endowed scholarship for soccer was created: The Men's Soccer Alumni Endowed Scholarship.
Cummins provided the lead gift for the creation of The Men's Soccer Alumni Endowed Scholarship.
"I am passionate about DePaul soccer because of what it has meant to my personal development and the lifelong connections I have made," Cummins said. "Simply put, coming to DePaul and playing soccer has been the single most influential decision in my life. Leading the efforts to endow this scholarship is my way to continue to offer these life-changing opportunities to others and to push Blue Demon soccer forward."
Cummins has been a long-time champion of the soccer program. On the pitch, he served as a captain and still ranks in the top 25 in career total points (23) with eight goals and seven assists.
He has served in numerous leadership roles on campus. His initial role as co-chair of the Athletics Advisory Council which he led with fellow letterwinner Scott Steffens under the leadership of Director of Athletics Jean Lenti Ponsetto is one of his greatest contributions.
The advisory council helped lead to the completion of the Sullivan-McGrath Campaign and continues to impact DePaul Athletics in its day-to-day fundraising efforts. Cummins also has served as President of the Alumni Association for the University and Chair of the Dean's Advisory Council for the College of Law, among other leadership positions.
"Jack's leadership gift of $25,000 to provide the foundation for this scholarship shows another example of his leadership," Ponsetto said. "We are thrilled that his leadership has motivated his teammates and his fellow alumni to join the effort to enhance scholarships."
Among those adding to Men's Soccer Alumni Scholarship were Bill Eikost (83-84), Jim Nannini (84-85), Bob Kruse (00-03), Carmen Maugeri (82), Brian Pratt (93-95), Sean Fitzpatrick (97-00), Tony Zimmer (85-88), Jonathan Matta (02-03), James Buchholz (82), Jason Cohen (86-89) and head coach Craig Blazer.
"Being part of this scholarship helps us promote and give back to Blue Demon soccer," Eikost said. "This program has grown tremendously since my playing days, and I want to ensure DePaul's soccer tradition continues to flourish well into the future."
Eikost and his wife Jennifer came in from the Phoenix area to attend the annual Soccer Alumni Day.
"This is the first time I have seen the completed Cacciatore Stadium. It looks fantastic." Eikost added. "Alumni Day provided a great opportunity to see teammates that I haven't seen in years."
The fundraising efforts have been part of an on-going effort behind the leadership of Cummins and Blazer.
"We set a goal to reach $50,000 by the Alumni Day," Blazer said. "To see us pass that mark makes me excited to see that our goal of $100,000 by the end of the year is within reach."
"We are going to continue to work with our alumni to build this scholarship to provide opportunity for soccer student-athletes for years to come."
In the past seven years, DePaul soccer has seen dramatic improvements on the field, off the field, and in the classroom. Under the direction of Jean Lenti Ponsetto, the improvements have included the creation of an all-purpose playing surface that is dedicated to soccer, the expansion to a coaching staff that features two full-time assistants and ultimately the opening of Cacciatore Stadium and its 1,200-seat capacity.
During this time, the program recorded its first BIG EAST conference title, four BIG EAST semifinal appearances, and the program's first NCAA Championship appearance. In addition, the program had its first NSCAA All-American (Brian Visser, first-team academic), has twice captured the BIG EAST Commissioner's honor rolls as the best academic program, and earned its first pre-season All-BIG EAST selection in current Blue Demon Antonio Aguilar. In addition, the men's soccer team posted the third-highest team GPA in the country last season.
"With all the commitment that DePaul has exhibited in the last seven years, expanding scholarships through endowment is really the next piece in raising the level of Blue Demon soccer," Blazer said.
"I salute Jack for having the vision and the leadership to kick off an effort like this scholarship drive. I look forward to the day we will be able to award our first DePaul Men's Soccer Alumni Scholarship."
A permanently named endowed scholarship requires a total of $50,000. Flexible giving options are available through the DePaul Athletic Development. Gifts can be made over a five-year pledge schedule.
The Soccer Alumni Endowed Scholarship is one of DePaul Athletics' 29 endowed scholarships. In 2010-11, nine new endowed scholarships were added to provide additional opportunity for Blue Demon student-athletes across many sports.
"Endowing scholarships is essential to the future of all our programs here at DePaul," Ponsetto said. "In many cases, these scholarships provide educational opportunity for student-athletes who could not otherwise afford a college education.
"The endowments also provide an incredible investment in the future of Blue Demon Athletics."
Endowed scholarships are at the center of DePaul University's Many Dreams...One Mission Capital Campaign to raise $250 million dollars.
For more information about the Men's Soccer Alumni Scholarship, contact Thad Dohrn at 773-325-1456.