GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- On Monday night, student-athletes at the University of North Dakota got the chance to meet the generous investors who contribute to their educations.
About 130 student-athletes and coaches from various programs, and about 80 Athletics investors, got together for the Champion Builders Social in the Ralph Engelstad Arena lobby, honoring Impact Scholarship and endowment investors of UND Athletics.
"This is something that doesn't happen at every institution," said Steve Brekke, UND Associate Athletics Director, Development. "This is a tremendous sign of how supportive UND alumni and friends are of UND Athletics and student-athletes."
Since the Impact Scholarship program begin at UND in 2007, it has raised more than $3.7 million in support of student-athlete education at UND.
"We've come out of the Division I transition as well as anyone ever did in the history of the transition effort," said UND Director of Athletics Brian Faison. "But we couldn't have done it without the Impact Scholarship program, and we couldn't have done it without the endowment scholarship programs."
Faison cited the football program as a standout in increasing scholarship support, moving from 36 scholarships to 63 in just two years.
"It's phenomenal, and I can't thank our investors enough. We cannot do what we do without them."
Jake Miller, a junior on the UND football team and recipient of the Rick and Lori Lee Impact Scholarship, said he feels fortunate to receive scholarship support.
"It's great for student-athletes to get to know their donor, to sit down and have a conversation with people who are helping you out with college. I can't thank them enough for giving me the opportunity to play college athletics here at the University of North Dakota."
Investor Trisha Stromsodt-Hoefs, '90, attended the social for the first time, along with her husband, Joe Hoefs, '88.
"I think it's an awesome opportunity to meet our students. When we met (former UND hockey player) Brock (Nelson), we got to know him, and the relationship has continued even though Brock has gone on," Trisha said.
This year, the R. Joseph Hoefs & Family Impact Scholarship supports men's hockey player Zane Gothberg.
"Being a hockey fan developed into something that was for the whole family. Instead of just enjoying the game, I wanted to teach my kids that if you want to be a part of something, you need to help out and be a part of it," Joe said. "With Impact Scholarships, you actually can see where your money is going, and it's neat how students show their appreciation."
The Champion Builders Social also recognized distinguished student athlete Ronni Munkeby, and welcomed guest speaker Paul Robson, '65, former UND football player who went on to play in the Canadian Football League, eventually becoming a general manager, and now serves as CEO of Canad Inns Corp.