Wildcat Club Rebrands to Wildcat Association

Dennis Francois. Photo courtesy of CWU Athletics

Dennis Francois. Photo courtesy of CWU Athletics

Devin Guerra-Burnett, Staff Reporter

In 2021 The Wildcat Club became The Wildcat Association, rebranding itself to further serve as the main booster club for athletics. The association’s focus is on impacting student athletes’ experiences and providing opportunities for further attending students’ futures and careers.

Many donors are former student athletes, students or people who felt compelled to be a part of an association for opportunities and resources to better their future.

By providing donations and raising funds that can be dispersed through a variety of scholarships, the athletic association is able to recruit skilled student athletes to CWU.

“The ultimate goal is to make sure they leave here with a meaningful degree at hand and go out and achieve great things in their lives,” CWU athletic director Dennis Francois said.

Francois highlighted the impact of being recognized at the Wildcat Hall of Fame Gala.

 “At our Wildcat Hall of Fame Gala that we host every year, we have one or two of those student athletes that received the Hall of Fame Scholarship get up and talk about how much their scholarship meant to them,” Francois said. 

Donte Hamilton, a former student and current football coach for CWU, who was a previous recipient scholarship last year. 

“Donte is now on our coaching staff, who was a young man who went to junior college, and we were the only school that was offering him a scholarship after junior college,” said Francois. “He ended up graduating with 3 point something last year and working on his master’s degree now but he [is] also an all American.” 

Without scholarship funding, students like Hamilton would have chosen other opportunities and CWU would have missed the chance of having him on the football team apart from the staff and former player.

There are also scholarships like the MBRACE (Martin Brace) scholarship. 

“Steve Brace is a Central grad who wasn’t a student athlete, and he did that scholarship in honor of his father whose name was Martin Brace who’s a CWU grad as well and wasn’t a student athlete, but that’s the M is for Martin,” Francois said.

Francois received a letter from a past recipient thanking him for the great experience. 

“I took a picture of that and sent it to Steve,” said Francois. “I said Steve, you want to see this because this is a person who just graduated with a 3.9 gpa and was one of the recipients of your scholarships a few years ago, and Steve said, wow that’s what it’s all about.”

When it comes to picking people for these scholarships, there are certain qualifications that are listed.

Scholarship awards may come with certain rewards that are matched to the donor’s specific identity. This can be a first generation student, ethnicity or birthplace.

CWU offers a various amount of opportunities for the diversity of the student body applying for these scholarships.

The Emiquez family of 11 boasts six CWU alumni.

As first generation students, the family’s parents were from Mexico. The family had a Latino background and were first-generation college students and also parents that were migrants. Their scholarship was created to help football players. Five family members played football. 

“I’m going to be in a position when I leave here, and it might be $25 a year for the first five years then I can put a one in front of that number when my career develops,” Francois said. “Then I might put a zero behind that 25 in x amount of years knowing that I want to pay it forward and give back to the people who made my opportunity possible and made me who I am today and make that impact on someone else’s life.”

If you are a student who is interested in getting involved with the Wildcat Association reach out to Dennis Francois. They are always accepting volunteers during their events.