Winston-Salem, N.C.—Nearly 300 student-athletes, coaches and donors gathered in the Snead Room in Bridger Field House on Saturday for the fourth annual Stewardship Brunch, hosted by the Deacon Club in honor of scholarship donors.
Those in attendance helped fund scholarships for over 350 Wake Forest student-athletes through the establishment of endowed athletic scholarships and contributions to the Deacon Club Annual Fund.
Barry Faircloth, Associate Athletic Director of Development, began his introduction by thanking the scholarship donors in attendance.
“Scholarship donors provide for the needs of our student-athletes both on and off the field including everything from their health and wellness to their education and tutors. None of that could happen without the donors that are sitting here today and on behalf of the Athletic Department we thank you for your resources to help provide the total scholarship experience in order to Develop Champions.”
Wake Forest football senior Ryan Janvion (’16) then took the podium for the invocation followed by an opportunity for donors and student-athletes to get to know one another over brunch, always a highlight of the event.
Of special note were members of the John Hicks Society in attendance, comprised of donors who have established endowed scholarships, as well as the Moricle Society and Locker Room Club. Moricle Society donors contribute the equivalent of one full scholarship for a student-athlete each year and Locker Room Club Members a half scholarship.
Following brunch, Barry Faircloth welcomed Wake Forest alum Ovie Mughelli (’03) to the podium. Mughelli, 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.
Mughelli began by speaking of his love of and appreciation for Wake Forest.
“I appreciate that I went to Wake Forest University—a place where not only are athletics a priority but so are academics and the culture. We at Wake Forest breed a culture of excellence where we want everyone to succeed; where we push for each other and are always trying to go a little bit higher and do a little bit more. That tireless work ethic is something we use for the rest of our lives.”
As Mughelli continued his speech, he discussed how Wake Forest changed his life, particularly due to the generosity of scholarship donors.
“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.”
Mughelli received a standing ovation at the conclusion of his speech.
New to this year’s event was a panel discussion moderated by Mughelli. Panel participants included Board of Trustees member and scholarship donor Jim Marino, former Wake Forest football player Kevin Smith (’00) and senior field hockey player Krysta Wangerin (’16).
Jim Marino who along with his wife Pat established the Hamilton-Marino Family Scholarship—a scholarship for first-generation student-athletes—began by reflecting on why he chose to give back to Wake Forest Athletics through an endowed scholarship.
“For Pat and myself, we were both first-generation college students and we learned firsthand through that experience of the special needs and personal challenges that a first generation college student confronts. We also knew from experience that graduating could put you on a trajectory that would change your life and that of your family for generations to come,” he said.
Marino continued, “An endowed scholarship is a gift that never stops giving. Each and every year there will be an athlete pursuing his or her love of a sport and getting ready to graduate because of the generosity of someone who endowed a full scholarship. That’s a very powerful legacy.”
Former Wake Forest football player Kevin Smith then discussed his motivation for giving back as a donor.
“I understand what it’s like to be a student-athlete and how important it is to have the things that help you compete at the highest level like facilities and equipment. In addition, giving back is what I was brought up to do. You support those institutions that have helped you get to the next level.”
Field hockey senior Krysta Wangerin, the current recipient of the WF Athletic/Academic Excellence Field Hockey Scholarship Fund, then expressed her deep thanks to the donors in attendance.
“Scholarship donors are fulfilling our childhood dreams,” she said. “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.”
Director of Athletics Ron Wellman then took the podium to offer closing remarks. He too thanked the donors in attendance saying, “We thank you for having the impact that you have upon the lives of student-athletes not only now but in the future. Thank you for what you are doing for student-athletes at Wake Forest.”
To view the Stewardship Brunch photo album, please click here. A video of the event will be available at a later date.