Annual Luncheon Brings Together Athletes, Donors
Oct. 19, 2011
SEATTLE - Washington's annual Donor Appreciation Scholarship Luncheon is a unique event in the athletic department's yearly calendar, one that brings coaches, student-athletes and donors together to share their combined experiences.
The 14th annual event was held Tuesday afternoon (Oct. 18) at Conibear Shellhouse, with a picturesque, sun-soaked view of Lake Washington shining into the dining room.
Every Husky head coach, student-athletes from each team - plus Husky legends like Don James and Warren Moon - and a collection of donors who endow so many of the UW's athletic scholarships were on hand as former Husky rower and KIRO 7 Eyewitness News traffic reporter Jenni Hogan introduced the speakers.
Hogan, born and raised in Australia, shared the story of having received an athletic scholarship. She was visiting for the Windermere Cup as a member of an Australian crew when she was offered a scholarship to the UW. "That moment changed my life," she recalled.
Hogan explained that in her native Australia, participating in competitive rowing at college age required her to have a job, go to school part-time and train in whatever time was left. The opportunity afforded her by earning a scholarship to the UW was one she was quick to accept.
A economic and communications double major, Hogan recounted how her experiences as a UW student-athlete, which included winning the 2002 NCAA championship, have molded her future life in the world of television news. She recalled getting to know the donors who had endowed her scholarship and urged the current Huskies to thank those donors by "paying it forward" to future UW student-athletes and by making the most of their opportunities.
Scott Woodward, the UW director of athletics, thanked all in attendance, noting that through their efforts, Washington enjoys the No. 1 graduation rate of all public-school athletic programs in the West.
Katie Rossmeissl spoke on behalf of the donors. Rossmeissl's brother, the late Kevin Cummings, played basketball at Washington in the 1980s, graduating in 1986 before earning a law degree from Notre Dame. He passed away due to Hodgkin's Disease in 1996.
Along with Cummings' friends and other family members, Rossmeissl helped create the Kevin Cummings Scholarship for Husky Men's Basketball. The current recipient of that scholarship is sophomore guard C.J. Wilcox.
Rossmeissl relayed the enjoyment she and her family have gained getting to know Wilcox and the rest of the UW basketball team. She was effusive in her praise of head coach Lorenzo Romar. "I truly believe that we have the best coach in the country," she said. "I'm proud to have him coaching my team."
Longtime men's tennis coach Matt Anger spoke on behalf of the UW coaches. After expressing his gratitude, Anger told of his long association with the University of Washington through the fact that his mother, grandmother and great grandmother are all UW alumnae (his great grandmother graduated in 1905).
Anger told of how his deep-seated knowledge of Husky athletics, notably the fact that the words to "Bow Down to Washington" were drilled into his head from a young age, was the key to him getting the Husky head coaching job back in 1995.
Davidson, a graphic design major, noted that, despite the fact that her father, Rich, had played football at Washington, and then coached under Jim Owens, she'd considered other options out of high school before the realization that joining the Husky family offered more than anywhere else could.
Dennison, a fifth-year senior communications major and native of Salt Lake City, Utah, recollected the early days under third-year head coach Steve Sarkisian and the realization he and his teammates came to that they were a part of something special.
Dennison summed up the sentiments of all of his fellow student-athletes who benefit from those who endow their scholarships.
"The best five years my life," said Dennison, "would not have been possible without people like you."