Clark’s second annual Cougar Challenge to support varsity student-athletes was even more successful than the first, surpassing last year’s total by $15,000. Despite the challenges of the global pandemic and the cancellation of the fall and winter sports seasons, alumni, parents, students, and friends rallied to raise $121,720, up from $107,000 in 2019. The two-day event was held October 21–23.
The Cougar Challenge, a partnership between The Clark Fund and Clark Athletics staff, supports team purchases of equipment, training gear, and apparel for Clark’s 17 varsity teams. While teams continued to practice, condition, and train safely together, the Cougar Challenge provided a welcome “competition” for the student-athletes, who marketed the event via social media and personal outreach.
The 2020 Cougar Challenge saw more than 1,350 donors contribute to Clark Athletics and varsity teams. Donors from across the country and around the world (representing seven countries) came together to make the Challenge a success, including 300 alumni, 300 current and past Clark parents, more than 130 student-athletes, and hundreds of friends, family members, and faculty and staff.
“The success of this year’s Cougar Challenge was overwhelming,” said Trish Cronin, director of athletics and recreation. “This has been a difficult year for our student-athletes and coaches, so to see this show of support from so many generous donors was truly inspiring and will have a tremendous impact on the student-athlete experience.”
As an added incentive, any team that reached 100 or more donors this year split a pool of funds contributed by an anonymous alumni couple. Nine teams met this goal, with softball topping the count at 172 donors, followed by rowing, men’s lacrosse, women’s soccer, women’s lacrosse, baseball, men’s basketball, men’s soccer, and swimming and diving. Five teams raised more than $10,000, including men’s basketball, men’s and women’s lacrosse, women’s soccer, and baseball.
In addition to purchasing needed equipment, warm-up and practice apparel, and training gear, Clark coaches also plan to use funds for team-building activities, team travel (when it resumes), and to help pay assistant coaches’ salaries.
Thank you to all of the matching-gift donors who helped Clark double, triple, and even quadruple gifts to our teams throughout the Cougar Challenge, as well as the hundreds of donors who supported Clark Athletics.