Fire Ant Athletics Hires Fundraising Coordinator
Sumter, SC (04/28/2017) — After a series of recent collegiate national championships, it is no secret that the state of South Carolina has a unique ability to mold high-performing athletes in a multitude of sports. These student athletes start playing at a young age, spending every free moment perfecting their talents.
Not all of the Division I athletes get their start at a large university however. Some are able to shine and receive more playing time by starting at a junior or community college like the University of South Carolina Sumter. These student athletes typically transfer into a larger program with a wealth of experience under their belt.
Fire Ant Athletics has been around for more than 10 years now. As a part of the NJCAA Division X, USC Sumter is proud to host men's and women's tennis, baseball, softball and coming in the Fall 2017, women's golf and men's soccer.
According to Community College Review, "Community college sports offer a sense of community on a campus where that can be hard to find." Because there is no on-campus housing, students can often be isolated from each other outside of class. However, a baseball, tennis or soccer game is the perfect venue for bringing students, faculty, staff and community members together. Intercollegiate athletics also offers education opportunities for student athletes through scholarships, some of whom might not have had the financial means to otherwise pay for college.
Contrary to popular belief, the Sumter program is independent of other athletics programs associated with the University of South Carolina. Meaning, USC Sumter must completely fund and support the athletics program to sustain it year-to-year.
"The self-funding mission and model of USC Sumter Athletics relies on no allocation of student tuition or state allocations. Therefore, private support is a critical component to providing a comprehensive, first-class experience," said Director of Athletics Adrienne Cataldo. "When I am out speaking to groups about our programs, the biggest misconceptions I always have to clarify is that we do not receive funding from the main campus for athletics and we have a history of success. We must be financially independent."
To support their programs, coaches must raise money for everything from uniforms to officials to travel. The programs depend heavily on community support to maintain their success.
To assist the coaches with their efforts, USC Sumter recently hired Christie Stutz as a Fundraising Coordinator who focuses solely on athletics.
"My goal is to recruit enough corporate and private contributors and/or sponsors to allow the coaches of each athletic program to spend more time recruiting and focusing on the student athletes' needs in the classroom as well as on the field of play," Stutz said.
Stutz has been with USC Sumter for the past 10 years. She served as a fundraising coordinator for the 2016 Fire Ant Color 5K and held positions in the USC Sumter bookstore and Business Office.
In 2017, USC Sumter athletics will host three events to raise money for the program: the spring Run and Rave Glow Run, a golf tournament in the fall and the annual Legends Dinner in the winter. Corporate sponsors not only enhance these events, Stutz has made it easy for businesses to receive multiple benefits for just one donation.
New sponsor guides outline the programs, the history of athletics at USC Sumter, locations of games and corporate sponsorship levels.
"Even though we have defined giving levels, we want sponsors to know that we are flexible and can customize packages to suit their needs and goals," Stutz said.
Two major projects that require funding now are a new softball facility and a new athletic bus. Expanding programs means a growing demand for transportation to and from games. USC Sumter needs to purchase a bus to ensure there are no scheduling conflicts for sports that share a season. A new softball facility would reduce confusion with shared scheduling with the city of Sumter and Parks and Recreation, would allow for permanent signage for sponsors, would create an official practice facility and eliminate Title IX concerns.
"Partnerships with community members and local businesses allow us to continue to provide the best scholarships, coaches, staff and facilities for our student-athletes," Cataldo said. "These athletes are disciplined in training and responsible in the classroom. They are critical thinkers and the next generation of leaders and professionals."
USC Sumter student athletes have given more than 1,000 hours of community service per year to local organizations like the Salvation Army, Evening Optimist Club, Special Olympics, YMCA, YWCA and the City of Sumter. The athletes mentor middle school students and visit children at the Palmetto Richland Children's Hospital during the holidays. At Halloween, baseball players served as Zombies for the city of Sumter Zombiefest and all programs pitched in to gather canned food for the United Ministries food pantry.
If interested in giving to Fire Ant Athletics, please contact Fundraising Coordinator Christie Stutz at 8030938-3892 or firstname.lastname@example.org.