On the night of Thursday January 28, the University of St. Francis held its 39th annual Brown and Gold athletics fundraiser. Held at the university’s Pat Sullivan Recreation Center, the event started at 5:30 p.m. with cocktails. Members from many different companies and organizations arrived throughout the hour and a half before the program started at 7 p.m.
Master of Ceremonies, USF Director of Athletics Dave Laketa, welcomed the guests who continuously attend the event and those who were attending for the first time. He mentioned the numerous accomplishments of the athletes this season from 46 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Scholar-Athletes to the five Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) Players of the Year.
The National Anthem was sung by USF Men’s Basketball player Jo Jo Ballestero. Dean of Students, Damon Sloan, also gave a welcome and boasted about the university’s accomplishments and thanked those in attendance for their consistent support. Dinner was provided by Sodexo food services and many student athletes assisted with food clean up, selling raffle tickets, and selling drinks.
Throughout dinner, guests had the chance to bid on silent auction items that included an autographed Jonathan Toews jersey, Cubs, White Sox and Bulls tickets and an autographed Curtis Granderson official MLB baseball. Once these items were auctioned off there was a live auction for an on-field experience at a 2016 regular season Cubs game, which sold for almost $3,000.
Laketa then introduced the guest of honor, Jed Hoyer, the Executive Vice President and General Manager of the Chicago Cubs since 2011. Hoyer gave a history of his career from the time he played college baseball till now. He mentioned the four players that were eager to sign with the team this season even though it meant less money, “If there was one theme of this winter for us, it was that people really wanted to be here… I think this is going to be the group that finally breaks through.”
New construction is being done at Wrigley Field and Hoyer is ready for a new era. “It feels like this is a great time to be a Cubs fan,” he said. With new renovations comes a new way of thinking about the organization as a whole. Hoyer wants to “change the culture of the Cubs,” who are often called the “loveable losers.” The goal is to “make the Cubs a destination.”
He sang to the hearts of all the fans in the room when he said “I can’t promise what year we will win a World Series, but we’re going to win a World Series in Chicago, it’s going to be with this group of players and its going to be a lot of fun.”
After his speech there was an opportunity for a question and answer period, which Hoyer said is one of his favorite things to do at events. Guests asked questions about the game of baseball in general, certain players and trades and some even shared memories of their favorite games and thanked Hoyer for all of his hard work. Baseball can be a tough business, especially on the front office side. However, Hoyer reminds himself that everyone is human when he said “You’re going to make mistakes.”