Clan gathering promotes athletic scholarships

CMYK-Clan gathering-Austin Cozicar

The fifth annual Gathering of the Clan Breakfast invited SFU Clan alumni and supporters together to “celebrate the history and future of SFU Athletics” while raising money for SFU athletic scholarships.

The breakfast, held on Friday, May 30 at the Vancouver Convention Centre, was hosted by the 2010 and 2012 CTV Olympics host, Brian Williams, who was the recipient of an honorary doctorate from SFU in 2011.

Joining him were the quarterbacks of the most recent championship teams in North America’s two biggest professional football leagues: Russell Wilson, of the 2014 Super Bowl champions, the Seattle Seahawks, and Darian Durant, of the Grey Cup winning Saskatchewan Roughriders.

The event started at 7:00 a.m. with the SFU Pipe Band performing Scotland the Brave. After Williams introduced everyone, SFU President Andrew Petter was the first to speak. He said, “Athletics is of course a hallmark at SFU, it’s a proud part of our history. It’s also key to our vision of SFU as Canada’s engaged university,” and that student athletes “epitomize that vision.”

Durant joined Williams on the stage, and Wilson joined them via a video feed from Seattle. Durant and Wilson were last minute additions to the speakers list, replacing another Seahawk, Richard Sherman, who was supposed to be a keynote speaker but pulled out shortly before the date. Williams, however, assured the audience that Sherman was not “out golfing,” and had another commitment to the Seahawks.

The two quarterbacks, who went to rivaling universities in North Carolina, started off by poking fun at each other. The conversation took on a more serious tone when Durant began explaining the importance of athletic scholarships to Williams: “It’s given me every opportunity in the world first and foremost. I don’t think I’d be sitting here today or being able to accomplish everything I have without scholarships.”

“Sometimes it’s hard for single parents, or even two parent households to be able to fund a very prestigious college education,” Durant continued. “To have a scholarship, to go to a prestigious university, to be able to receive a great education [. . .] is a wonderful thing.”

Once the quarterbacks were done, attendants were treated to breakfast. Olivia Aguiar, a sophomore forward on the SFU women’s soccer team, wrapped up the morning’s speeches on behalf of the athletes: “The Clan is a group of close-knit, interrelated families. Our family here at SFU, our Clan, is much larger than any of 400 student athletes; it consists of coaches, administration, equipment and personnel, physical therapists, alumni and most importantly everyone in this room today.”

Angus Reid, former BC Lion and SFU football alumni, spoke to The Peak about the importance of this fundraiser: “[Growing as an organization is] great to do, but it’s hard to do, and you’re seeing right now the growing pains — but it’s inspiring to see the vision. We want to move forward and compete at a high, high level.”

“Events like this become so crucial, to one, raise the funds to be able to do it but also to bring people together and let the business community know what SFU is doing, and promote that vision, and I think it’s great,” he added.

Reid also touched upon the importance of student scholarships saying, “The reality was, I might’ve been able to pull it off [without a scholarship], going to school and playing sports, but it would have created another hardship that would have never allowed me to excel in either.”

Fellow SFU football alumni Nicholas Shuster echoed Reid, “[Scholarships] really gave me a lot of financial freedom, [. . .] it gave me the ability to really become a student athlete and put my focus into just those two things.”  

At the end of the morning, the event had raised $242,000. These proceeds, raised in part by the $200-a-seat ticket price, will all go to SFU athletic scholarships.