When fourth year Communications, Media and Film student Courtney Ellis looked at his UWindsor student account and saw that he received the W. D. Lowe High School and Lancer Football Alumni Scholarship, he was overcome with emotion and immediately called his mother to share the news.
Ellis, Lancer Football defensive end, works part-time as a security guard to finance his education. “As the first in my family to attend university, the scholarship meant everything to me. It allowed me to take time off during the season to concentrate on football and my classes.”
The scholarship was established by long-time friends Justice Lloyd Dean BComm ’87, LLB ’90, BEd ’93, Richard Holland BA ’86, Monty Logan BSc ’88, BComm ’90 and Chris Porter, running back ’86-’89. The foursome played football at W. D. Lowe Secondary school where they were coached by John Purcell. It was Purcell who introduced them to the late Lancer coach Gino Fracas. Fracas could see they were promising athletes and immediately recruited them to play football for UWindsor and pursue a university education.
Dean was the first in his family to earn a university degree and admits that he would not have gone to university if it wasn’t for sports. “There were good paying jobs in the auto industry. Many of our classmates went from high school to work in the factories. My brother took a job in the plant and I likely would have too.”
The sentiment was echoed by Holland and Porter who were also the first in their families to attend university.
The foursome first heard of the need for football scholarships at the 2014 Gino Fracas Memorial Golf Tournament. They chatted about it during the dinner and soon committed to supporting a scholarship through the Annual Giving Program (AGP).
When asked what motivates them to give, they all agreed that it’s rewarding to pay it forward. Logan shared his sentiments, “We all had a great time at the University of Windsor playing football, building camaraderie and now we have the ability to give back.”
“It’s the generosity and support from our alumni and friends that makes the Annual Giving Program a success,” says Nicole Broderick, AGP Coordinator. “It strengthens their connection with their alma mater and the community. The impact our donors have on the lives of UWindsor students is immeasurable.”
Dean said, “to hear Courtney say he was so excited that he immediately called his mother to share the news, that’s motivating for us. That’s exactly the reaction any one of us would have had as students.”
“We wouldn’t have projected 30 years ago that we would be standing here with the means to help out someone like Courtney. Meeting him and hearing that our small gesture has made this kind of impact on his life is just great.”
All four have gone on to successful careers. Dean is a provincial court judge, Porter a firefighter, Holland a retired police officer and Logan an information technology director. The bond they built as student athletes remains strong.
Porter’s advice to Courtney is to set the bar high. “You will strive to achieve your goals if you set the bar high. It will make you work hard and you will be successful.”
Ellis already has plans to give back to the sport that helped him get to university. “My future’s bright. After graduation I want to stay in the area and coach high school football. I want to make a difference.”
Funds raised through the AGP support scholarships and campus initiatives. Donors can designate their gifts to a fund of their choice. Student callers can provide a variety of options.
The entire list of donors can be found online at uwindsor.ca/view