Alumni Named for Next Generation Heisman Board

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The John W. Heisman Club’s recently-announced Next Generation Board sets the foundation for a commitment to engaging with and prioritizing the voices of current students and recent grads in athletics.

The board, in its creation, consists of recent Oberlin College graduates: 2018 grads Monique Newton, Federico Consuegra, and Jackie McDermott; and 2016 grads Blaise Dolcemaschio and Molly Powers. These five athlete alumni were hand-picked by Associate Vice President for Athletics Advancement and Delta Lodge Director of Athletics & Physical Education Natalie Winkelfoos, Associate Director of Leadership Annual Giving Lisa Thuer, Senior Associate Director of Athletics Creg Jantz, and Heisman Club President Carla Freyvogel for their demonstrated commitment to and genuine love for Oberlin athletics.

The Heisman Club was created in 1978 by alumni as a way to honor former Oberlin Football Head Coach John William Heisman. The goal was to strengthen the intercollegiate athletics program. Following the 10-year endowment of the football team by the club, they decided to restructure, moving from just fundraising to providing a greater range of services, and shifting purview of the club from the Development Office to the Department of Athletics and Physical Education.

The club currently supports the College by funding athletic initiatives and wellness programming, supporting Oberlin College Athletics, providing the Delta Lodge Director of Athletics & Physical Education financial autonomy to better serve students, and highlighting the achievement of student-athletes and stakeholders. After a recent reflective analysis of the Heisman Club’s older demographic and its struggle to harness more youthful donors, the Next Generation Board was created to inform the Heisman Club on how to better engage younger alumni.

The new board members boast a number of achievements in their sports and academic fields, both during and after their time at Oberlin.

Powers was a member and captain of the women’s volleyball team and was named Freshman Athlete of the Year in 2012. She was also involved with the Student Athlete Advisory Committee and currently works as a research analyst in the Public Health Department at the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. She provides technical assistance to clients and grantees, analyzes data, conducts literature reviews, and drafts deliverables for clients. Additionally, Powers is studying part-time toward her Master of Public Health at George Washington University.

“While the Heisman Club members are excited to have these new voices take charge in representing the brand, the Next Generation Board members seem even more excited to take this charge,” Powers said. “While my official volleyball career is over, being a member of the board has provided me with an opportunity to continue to grow my relationship with Oberlin College Athletics.”

Newton expressed a similar sentiment.

“I’m always looking to stay connected to Oberlin Athletics,” Newton said. “It was a big part of my college experience and it will always hold a special place in my heart. So when they reached out saying they were getting together this junior board, there really wasn’t much hesitation. For me, it was just whether or not it worked with my schedule and whether or not I felt like I could participate as much as I wanted to in that regard.”

Newton, who holds laureates as a two-time National Champion and eight-time All-American, currently works in Pittsburgh as a Coro Fellow in the Coro Fellowship in Public Affairs and intends to matriculate into a Ph.D. program next fall, views the board as her way of staying engaged with Oberlin Athletics.

“I think with the Heisman Club, the tendency is you graduate and then you don’t really do much for the 10-year period after you graduate,” she said. “And then as you get older, you start to engage more with the board and be more active. That doesn’t have to be the case, and it’s possible to engage with [people earlier]. That’s another reason I was like, ‘You guys need help with this — I can help.’”

For some, being a member of the new board feels like coming full circle.

“Being an Oberlin athlete meant that, during college, I received not just a fantastic intellectual education, but also an education in fitness, teamwork, perseverance, and all of the other tools and lessons that come from being a college athlete, which I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life,” McDermott said. “I always appreciated the role that the Heisman Club played in supporting that wonderful experience. So I’m very grateful to have the chance to hopefully give something back to the Heisman Club by being a Next Generation Board member. The people involved with the Heisman Club … were dear mentors to me during college and are people that I truly admire. So I’m grateful for the chance to continue to work with them and help them in any way I can.”

McDermott, who now works as a podcast producer at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, PA, was senior captain of the Women’s Tennis Team and team MVP with over 100 career wins. She also served as Sports Editor for the Review and was a member of SAAC during her time at Oberlin.

Regardless of their personal reasons for joining the board, one clear connection between the five is their love for sports and the institution they went to.

“To put it simply — I love Oberlin and Oberlin Athletics,” McDermott said. “I would be thrilled and honored to be continually involved with Oberlin for the rest of my life.”

On a similar note, Consuegra, who played football and was heavily involved in the Oberlin Student Finance and Investment Club at Oberlin shared, “For me, being a part of the Next Generation Board is about maintaining my connection to Oberlin and giving back to an institution that affected me so profoundly. Oberlin helped forge me into the person I have become.”

Currently, the Next Generation Board is working on proposals, engagement, and reassessing the effectiveness of past forms of communication to alumni. In the long term, the board will act as a stepping stone for alumni slated to be Heisman Club members. The board members will be incorporating their own experiences to better inform this analysis. By marketing their youth and connection to alumni from their own graduating classes, the Next Generation Board members will be able to make the Heisman Club more visible to younger alumni and market the club through social media.

Dolcemaschio, who was the starting catcher and senior captain of the baseball team, currently works in a position from which he can leverage experience to better develop the Heisman Club’s social media presence. He is a freelancer in the entertainment industry where he works in the production, art, talent, and director departments. He works on anything from reality television to commercials, documentaries, music videos, scripted and live television, as well as various sporting events.

“Being a member of the Next Generation Board gives me greater responsibility for something that doesn’t involve growing my career, [but] rather something that will help all current [students] and future graduates,” Dolcemaschio said. “I’m learning that it’s a never-ending cycle of support between alumni, current students, and their families. The fact that everyone’s support has grown and continues to grow every year is extremely exciting to see.”

While the board is still new and some of the more formal aspects of it — such as turnover and member addition — have yet to be institutionalized and agreed upon, there are high hopes from both the Heisman Club and the Next Generation Board for engagement with younger alumni moving forward.

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