Just as the Sixth Man Club supports student-athletes, the club itself is backed by a generous community of donors and volunteers.
“Our men’s basketball program is only as successful as the resources provided through the Sixth Man Club and its donors,” says head coach Dan Vanhooren.
Resources for recruitment and retention, mentorship, sport science, equipment, assistant coaching, travel, scholarships and more — all of which enrich the student-athlete experience and help prepare them for life after university — are made possible through philanthropic gifts.
“The experiences we provide are the key to the lifelong relationships created with the university,” adds Vanhooren. “Dinos are not just the athletes and the sports we play, but who we are for generations. This can only be accomplished through the generosity of former Dinos and community supporters who believe in the value of developing future leaders from all our programs.”
For Santiago, that support has led to experiences he wouldn’t otherwise have — like helping to write the business proposal for a new Dinos arena, an opportunity made possible by Sixth Man Club director Geoff Thompson. And when the Dinos season was sidelined last year due to COVID-19, Santiago made the most of the time by taking an internship with mentor Phil O’Neill, gaining business acumen — which, along with his on-court experience, will serve him well as he completes his bachelor of commerce and eventual MBA.
“Business and basketball kind of go hand in hand,” says Santiago. “Learning how to communicate, to work hard and stick with your goal … those skills transfer over into the business world really well.”
Mentorship, Santiago has learned, will also get you far. In fact, the Sixth Man Club has made such a difference in his life that he’s already paying it forward.
“I mentored a kid through Catholic Family Services and it was just a great experience. We still talk to this day, and I can tell that it’s made a huge impact on his life,” says Santiago, who got as much out of the experience as he put into it. “Learning from someone that's been in your shoes or has been where you're trying to go is the quickest, easiest, most useful way to learn.”
Indeed, it’s a sentiment that rings true both on and off the court.
To learn more about giving and how your support makes a difference, contact our giving team.