The annual Deacon Club Stewardship Brunch is always a special event where we honor the generosity of our scholarship donors and celebrate the successes of our student-athletes. This year’s Stewardship Brunch was an especially exciting event as we were able to have Wake Forest football alum Ovie Mughelli return to campus as our special guest speaker.
Ovie, a four-year letterman, was a member of the Wake Forest football team from 1998-2002. After graduating from Wake Forest he was a fourth round draft pick of the Baltimore Ravens and spent 9 years in the NFL playing for the Baltimore Ravens and Atlanta Falcons. Following his NFL career he has continued his love of football as a sports analyst with FOX Sports and 680 The Fan in Atlanta. He also earned a Masters of Business Administration from George Washington University in 2015.
As Ovie spoke he discussed several topics but his message always seemed to go back to his love of and respect for Wake Forest and the opportunities it has created for him.
“Everything that I’ve done in my life is because I had the opportunity to go to Wake Forest,” he said. “Donors like those in attendance today—who give from their hearts because they see the potential in student-athletes—gave me the opportunity to go to Wake Forest and I can’t thank them enough for how much they’ve impacted my life and how much they’ve changed me.”
Upon the conclusion of Ovie’s speech, we began a panel discussion, new to the Stewardship Brunch this year. Led by Ovie, members of the panel included endowed scholarship donor Jim Marino, former Wake Forest football player Kevin Smith and field hockey senior Krysta Wangerin.
Relationships between donors and their endowed student-athletes were a topic of discussion throughout the panel. Jim Marino—who with his wife Pat are endowed donors of a scholarship for a first-generation student-athlete—discussed his relationship with his endowed student-athlete, track and field thrower Emily Campbell. Being first-generation students themselves, Jim and Pat understand the unique struggles that a first-generation student faces. Because of this, they wanted to help a deserving first-generation student-athlete come to Wake Forest and excel both in the classroom and on the field. Jim and Pat meet with Emily whenever they are on campus to discuss her classes, career plans and aspirations for the future.
Jim said, “It’s one of the best feelings to support and help an athlete attend and compete at Wake Forest. I love going to watch Emily play and having someone to cheer for. I love the relationship it’s created for Pat and I.”
Field hockey senior Krysta Wangerin then voiced her sincere thanks to scholarship donors saying, “Scholarship donors are fulfilling our childhood dreams. Speaking for all student-athletes, thank you so much. Without you we wouldn’t be here and wouldn’t have the same opportunity of being a Demon Deacon.”
The Deacon Club currently has 161 athletic scholarships established, representing a market value of over $32 million. However, with the need to endow 350 scholarships each year, we fall short on being able to fully fund our athletic scholarships. Because of this, we are unfortunately very reliant on our Deacon Club Annual Fund to cover this gap. However, it is a long-term goal of mine to be able to endow each of these 350 scholarships in the future, representing a total endowment market value of $280 million.
The difference that our scholarship donors are making in our student-athletes’ lives and college experiences is truly incredible. The support, relationships and development are what it is all about and I’m confident that all of these will only grow stronger with time.
On behalf of the Deacon Club, thank you to all of our donors who make so much possible for the student-athletes of Wake Forest. Because of you we are able to continue Developing Champions.
To view photos from the event, please click here. A full video recap of the event will be available at a later date.