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Otter Athletics relaunches fundraising program for student-athletes

Collage photos of student-athletes

By Sophia Huang McKenzie

Published April 23, 2021

CSU Monterey Bay’s Athletics Department has relaunched the Otter Athletics Fund, its official annual fundraising program to support the academic and athletic success of current and future CSUMB student-athletes. All gifts to the fund directly impact current student-athletes through scholarships and sport-specific program enhancements such as travel, equipment, training and technology.

“Now is the time to come back together and position ourselves for success as we all look forward to our return to play in 2021. Our vision, mission and goals remain the same. Our mission is to serve, challenge and support each other in pursuit of student-athlete success. We will empower our student-athletes to earn a degree, train, compete for championships and develop as responsible leaders,” Athletics Director Kirby Garry said in a letter to potential donors.

The department announced the revamped fund earlier this month at “Bring It In: A Night with Otter Athletics”, a virtual event to reflect on the past pandemic year and share plans for getting back into action in Fall 2021. The department aims to be a premier athletics program in the California Collegiate Athletic Association, consistently competing for conference championships and qualifying for NCAA Division II postseason competition.

Our mission is to serve, challenge and support each other in pursuit of student-athlete success. We will empower our student-athletes to earn a degree, train, compete for championships and develop as responsible leaders.”
Athletics Director Kirby Garry

“Topping the list of strategic initiatives for Otter Athletics is to raise the sustainable resources necessary for comprehensive success across all of our sports programs. A critical element to a sustainable funding model is a thriving annual fund built on the support of our extended athletics family of alumni, parents, local community members, and business partners,” Garry said.

Garry praised student-athletes and coaches for their handling of the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic when sports seasons were canceled and CSUMB shifted to virtual instruction for the health and safety of all.

“Despite this 12+ month setback, our coaches and student-athletes continue to demonstrate a strong culture of resilience in the face of tremendous adversity. Our student-athletes have remained enrolled, engaged and on track toward their degrees. They earned a GPA of 3.36 taking exclusively online classwork this past fall,” Garry said.

The fund features four levels of giving: Raft Club for Alumni, $5-99; Navy Club, $25-99; Gold Club, $100-499; Captain’s Club, $500-1000+. Each level comes with different benefits including invitations to athletics special events, attendance at team practices, and access to the official Otter Athletics Adidas Team Store.

Speakers at the virtual event included Rob Ponce, KION-AM sports announcer and “Voice of the Otters”; Shae Brocker, softball aum and Otter Athletics Hall of Fame inductee; Kaitlin Rooney, president of NCAA Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and water polo player; and Moe Melhart, head volleyball coach and Athletics Development director.

“We are looking forward to having all of you back on campus in the future and continue to watch, cheer and support all of our student-athletes, as they continue to excel in the classroom and in their fields of competition,” Melhart said in closing the event.

“Your contributions, both financially and otherwise, make a significant impact on so many, and for that we are so grateful. On behalf of all of us here at Otter Athletics, I want to thank you for your support, for believing in what we're doing. We all look forward to the day when the fields, the pool, the track, the course, and the Kelp Bed are once again full with all of you cheering for our amazing student-athletes. ”

For more information and to donate, go to the Otter Athletics Fund website.

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