Varsity Athletes Club - what's in it for me




June 4, 2009

Every year beginning early spring, the Board of Directors (Board) of the Varsity Athletes Club (VAC), formerly known as the Former Athletes Association, commences its' membership drive. Members of the Board are sometimes asked questions such as "What do I get for my $50 membership dues?" or "What's in it for me?" Read on, but first be aware of two facts.

First, the only source of funds the Board has available to undertake any projects is membership dues. The Board conducts its business in conjunction with the athletic department and membership dues are funneled through the CSU Foundation for tax purposes, but the dues are not transferred to the athletic department nor does the VAC receive funds from the athletic department. Membership dues stay with the VAC.

Second, membership in the VAC is much like membership in any other tax exempt organization. That is, benefits are mostly psychic rather than a financial "return on investment ". Each VAC member does enjoy the unique privilege of adding his/her name to the roster of athletes who have long-standing memories of be competing for CSU/Colorado A&M at the d Division 1 level. Each member will receive a hard copy of the membership list.

A few local area former athletes formed the Former Athletes Association in 1988 primarily to select and induct alumni- athletes into the newly formed Hall of Fame (HOF). The HOF is now 126 members strong. VAC membership dues, together with ticket sales, pay for the induction ceremony held each year in the banquet room of the Hilton Hotel. The induction ceremony fits the importance of the HOF award in that it is a first-class event. See the May 2009 monthly article on this link for more information about the HOF.

If a member is fortunate enough to be able to attend CSU football games, he/she can take advantage of the VAC lounge at Hughes Stadium. The lounge provides a warm, comfortable setting where members can relax before games and during halftime, renew acquaintances with long standing friends, and make new friends. The lounge features photographs of athletes and teams from years past, a display case of mementos from years past, photographs of the latest HOF class, and an all-sport, photographic display of CSU/Colorado A&M All-Americans. See the photo gallery on this link. Each year a number of student-athletes transition from the world of athletics and academics at CSU to the outside world where production results in a paycheck rather than just the satisfaction of a job well done on the playing field or in the class room. The Board is now involved in three projects designed to give these students food for thought that they can build on to help them make that transition. One is an appreciation luncheon for graduating senior athletes. Second is an event called the etiquette dinner. Third is an event called career day. The athletic department places such events under the heading "Life Skills". The Board has coined the term "Strategy for Career Transition".

This spring, Paul Kowalczyk, Director of Athletics, and his staff initiated the first annual luncheon to honor and thank graduating student-athletes for the hard work they put forth and the sacrifices they endured to compete in athletics for CSU. The VAC sponsored the luncheon and associated ceremony (held at the Hilton Hotel) and Rich Gregory, VAC President, welcomed the graduating seniors into the Club.VAC members can be proud that their dues helped make these athletes and their families feel appreciated at a first-class event during their last day as a CSU undergraduate.

The etiquette dinner is a campus- wide event open to all CSU students at no cost to the students. It is organized by on-campus groups outside of the athletic department. The event aims to teach students the fundamentals of social, business, and dining etiquette. The program features a three-course meal, a professional etiquette expert as a keynote speaker, and a fashion show which highlights the dos and don'ts of dressing for interviews and business social events. The organizers limit attendance to 200 students. The Board arranged for 50 seats dedicated to student-athletes and then worked with the athletic department to fill those seats. In addition, the VAC sponsored three tables of ten students per table and arranged for some alumni-athletes and members of the athletic department staff to function as table hosts (mentors) during the dinner. By all accounts the etiquette dinner is now a fixture event for the athletic department and a valuable part of the VAC's "Strategy for Career Transition".

In April of this year, the athletic department and the VAC organized a two-part career day program. The first part featured a speaker who is an expert in resume writing and job interview techniques. The second part featured an interactive exchange between a select group of alumni-athletes now working in the private sector and an audience of student-athletes soon to enter the private sector. The alumni- athletes answered a series of questions designed to highlight their experiences in making the transition from student-athlete to job -seeker. The student-athletes provided very positive feedback. The Board will work with the athletic department to make career day an annual event.

So, as a CSU alumni-athlete, what do you get for your $50 to join the VAC? You get a tax exemption for a small contribution to a group (VAC) that recognizes the impact that former athletes had on the history of CSU athletics. You help to induct worthy alumni-athletes into the very prestigious Hall of Fame. You help to maintain the VAC lounge at Hughes stadium. And, maybe most importantly, you help to establish and maintain projects that emphasize to current student-athletes the importance of preparing for the transition from the world of CSU to the world of competing for jobs and a pay check. Thanks!

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