Donor Spotlight: Maintaining Hoosier Connections
July 29, 2013
Roger and Kathy Benson, both Indiana University graduates, currently reside in Wheaton, IL. Roger was a former student-athlete on the IU swim team under legendary coach Doc Counsilman. He and his wife, Kathy, had been looking for a way to maintain a connection with the swimming program and have found it through the IU Varsity Club. They have also been reconnected with IU's Olympic sports through their daughter, Rachel, a recent graduate of IU. As an undergraduate, Rachel worked closely with many of IU's teams as a sports reporter/anchor for Indiana University Student Television (IUSTV).
The Varsity Club recently sat down with Roger, Kathy and Rachel to hear how they have maintained a strong connection with IU Athletics.
Q: As a former student-athlete and an I-Association member, what does it mean to you to support to the Varsity Club?
Roger: Being a former student-athlete, you almost inherently want to give back. My team sport was swimming and I really wanted to stay connected with the program. An easy way to make a contribution to IU Athletics is through the IU Varsity Club. I've always enjoyed sports and being part of the phenomenal swimming program at Indiana, it just was a natural to want to give back to IU Athletics.
Q: Rachel, can you tell me about your connection to IU Athletics through your experiences as a Sports Broadcasting Communication major and an IUSTV sports anchor?
Rachel: I came to Indiana University in the fall of 2006. Majoring in Sports Broadcasting led me to my involvement with IUSTV's sports department, Hoosier Sports Night, which I started during my junior year. Every week I was going to a different sporting event: volleyball, wrestling, soccer, football, and men's and women's basketball. Attending the games, filming highlights, interview coaches and players in press conferences as well as adding a recap and editing all totaled incredible hands-on experience for my career. It was this amazing experience that eventually got me an internship with the Indianapolis Colts.
Kathy: It was really Rachel's involvement with IUSTV that really rekindled my interest in IU Athletics. By following her, I started paying attention to sports I never followed while I attended IU, especially men's soccer. As a result, I felt that I was getting to know the players, coaches and history. It was very interesting and it really rekindled my love for IU Athletics.
Q: What do you find most rewarding about giving to the IU Varsity Club?
Roger: Being part of the whole institution with respect to the sports themselves brings a lot of comradery. When going places, you see someone with an IU logo on their shirt and you immediately have a connection with them. You end up talking about sports and it's great to be able to talk about student-athlete scholarships and our role in helping to fund them.
Kathy: Just the idea that we're helping with scholarships for IU's student-athletes through donations is an incredible thing. I read one of your old interviews with IU Golfer Rosie Davies; her response of being so grateful to come to Indiana was outstanding and hearing that Varsity Club donations are what helped her to come here is very inspirational. There's a great feeling of joy associated with helping these student-athletes.
Q: Rachel, do you have any favorite interviews you wanted to share from your time with IUSTV?
Rachel: I once got the opportunity to interview Jerry Yeagley. He spoke at one of my classes and I ran into him at a soccer game that he was attending as a spectator. I approached him, introduced myself, and asked if I could interview him at the next match. I got to hear all about his career as the former IU men's soccer coach and I established a connection with him. I saw him at every men's soccer game and we got a lot of chances to chat and further get to know each other.
Q: As a family, do you guys have any specific memories of IU Athletics?
Roger: Back in 1987, I was able to attend the NCAA National Championship in New Orleans. I got to see Indiana beat Syracuse and it was so awesome to see Keith Smart hit that game-winning shot. That, for me, was a great memory.
Kathy: Being that we're empty-nesters, we've found that we've been more and more interested in IU Athletics. The Chicago winters are very cold and the idea of having breaks throughout the winter to get to the basketball games is a great relief. No matter what the weather is, it's always sunny in Bloomington! It was great to visit college friends for tailgates, but it's nice to be in a position that we can regularly attend and support the teams and the athletes.
Roger: We've become like all the alumni; we have to go to Nick's before the game wearing cream and crimson and then head to Memorial Stadium or Assembly Hall to watch the games. It's great to get back to town to see our closest friends that we haven't seen in a long time.
Q: Anything else?
Kathy: Though we're talking a lot about sports, we can't overlook Indiana as far as the academics go. We're giving these athletes an opportunity to learn at such a fine institution. When the day comes that they are no longer competing athletically, they have a wonderfully strong background to start a great future in the professional workplace.
Lastly, one of the benefits of giving for so long, & starting out as a Varsity Club donor at a younger age is that it has allowed us to build up enough priority points. Now later in life, we are able to travel & attend games regularly.
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