WINONA, Minn. — Thanks to the generosity of a family that wishes to be anonymous, Saint Mary’s University Cardinal hockey programs will receive some major upgrades next season — including rink improvements and new men’s apparel and equipment.
With an outright gift of $250,000 and a commitment of $750,000 for future needs, these philanthropic Cardinal hockey fans are giving back to a sport that has brought their family so much joy — and so many meaningful connections — through the years.
Multiple children in this hockey family have played competitively, from youth through college. “They loved the sport, and we loved the sport, and it has taken us all over the world. We’ve met some great people along the way. It’s a great group, and some of our best friends have been made through hockey,” the family shared.
The benefactors expressed their appreciation of men’s coach Ryan Egan, women’s coach Sarah Murray, as well as Sarah’s father, Andy Murray. Though the hockey world is expansive, they describe the network within hockey as supportive and close-knit.
Their faith, they say, played a large role in their decision to make this gift. “We contemplated together and prayed together about where to donate and how to give back,” the family shared. It was this same faith component that helped connect them to Saint Mary’s.
Although their goal with these gifts is to enhance the men’s hockey program, they are also very excited that the women’s program will benefit from these upgrades.
They know playing hockey is costly, both for the athletes and their families, and for the school programs. “Equipment and operating a rink is expensive and the travel as well; it’s an expensive sport,” the family shared.
In addition to bigger items like a second scoreboard and new sound and acoustics, the initial $250,000 will include men’s equipment and apparel.
It was this family’s wish that seniors be able to take some of their equipment and apparel with them when they graduate.
“We thought it would be great for them to have that equipment, so they can continue playing their sport, professionally or within leagues,” the family shared. “And having Saint Mary’s name out there is a recruitment tool. When they go out, someone will see that, and then (hockey alumni) can share their hockey stories and what Saint Mary’s meant to them and spread that message.”
Coaches Egan and Murray agree that this gift not only enhances the players’ experiences, but also helps drive recruitment efforts for future Cardinal student athletes.
“I can’t even put into words what this gift means to the Saint Mary’s men’s hockey program,” Egan said. “The impact that this gift will have, not only short-term but long-term, will help carry this program through the next decade and beyond. We are forever grateful to these benefactors.”
“Our Cardinal athletes are grateful for all the enhancements made possible because of this generosity,” Murray added. “The results of this gift will be visible to not only our athletes and our fans, but also to prospective students, and will help set us apart from our competitors.”
Father James P. Burns, IVD, Ph.D., Saint Mary’s president, said he was honored to speak with the benefactors. “We are so grateful for their generosity and commitment to Saint Mary’s and edified by their trust and faith in God,” he said. “They are exemplars of the work we are doing at Saint Mary’s, particularly in regard to our character and virtue initiatives. This gift helps us to foster our vision for this critical initiative.”