The 3rd annual Gryphon Football Gala is in the books and the recruiting & scholarship bugdet is $33,000 richer for the effort. The Gala which is the primary fundraising event of the Friends of Gryphon Football is a young event which continues to grow. This year’s Gala saw the event move to a larger venue, draw it’s largest crowd to date, attract many local and football “notables” and realize an increased level of corporate sponsorship. Those are all very good trends.
One of the things I love about the Gala is the opportunity to meet and renew acquaintances with former Gryphon players, coaches and supporters. There were former players from the OAC-OVC era right through to 2013 grads. Nearly a dozen former Aggies/Redmen players from the Mooney era were present. Unfortunately Coach Tom Mooney wasn’t able to make it – the first Gala he has missed. But it was nice to see that former HC Kyle Walters, in Ontario for the East-West Game, was able to make it out to his first Gala. I had a chance to meet several former players for the first time – Seig Will [1985-89] and Sam Benincasa [1979-83]. Benincasa had his jersey number “honoured” in a tradition that began last year.
In my opinion the Friends of Gryphon Football organization is on the right track with this event. Revenues may not have grown substantially yet but the ground work is being laid. These events take a tremendous amount of time and effort to organize. There is also a learning curve with something new like this. Queen’s, Laurier and McMaster may have raised more money to date hosting similiar events but they have been doing it for a decade or more. I think it is a reasonable goal to hope to see the Gryphon Football Gala net $50,000 or more in another year or two.
As Coach Stuart Lang said during his address the importance of the financial support to the program has never been more important. Guelph has had success and recruited well in spite of not having as much scholarship money as many of our competitors. Western, McMaster, Queen’s, UofT & Ottawa can each offer more scholarship money than the Gryphons. The return of the Carleton Ravens, with a budget that dwarfs most other OUA teams, to football play will provide a new challenge. Gryphon supporters and the Athletic administration need to step up and support the program if it is going to achieve sustainable success.