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Big Rapids, Mich. - The excitement continues to build for Ferris State University football as evidenced by this past Saturday's (June 2) record turnout for the 29th annual Bulldog Football Golf Outing, which was held at Clear Lake Golf Club.
Nearly 150 golfers, including a large number of former players, took part in the annual fundraising event. The four-person shotgun golf scramble, which is hosted by the FSU Gridiron Club in conjunction with the Bulldog Athletic Association (BAA), serves as one of the Ferris State football program's primary fundraising events.
Those taking part in this year's event not only had an opportunity to play the 18-hole round, but were also treated to a pre-event cookout, dinner after the event along with an evening banquet that featured raffles and auction prizes.
First-year Bulldog football head coach Tony Annese and his staff were on hand throughout the event and he received a large round of applause after a motivational speech during the evening banquet which encouraged former players and alumni to continue to show their support.
"It was a great day and exciting to see so many former players back for the event," said Annese. "I felt our staff was very well-received and those alumni made us feel comfortable and a welcome part of the Ferris State football family."
In addition to the alumni, several current players also participated and helped with the event in addition to community and Gridiron Club members. Former NFL linebacker Ray Bentley, who's a co-host of WBBL's popular "Bakita & Bentley" morning show in Grand Rapids, was also on hand.
"It was an exciting event and so nice to have a large number of Bulldog alumni back and involved in the program," said Assistant Coach Sparky McEwen, who is helping coordiate the Bulldog football alumni relations efforts. "It was outstanding to hear of everyone's excitement for the upcoming season and great to have them back taking the time to be involved with the football family."
Former players echoed the thoughts of the coaching staff about this year's 29th annual event.
"The golf outing was a great opportunity to meet the new coaching staff and hear their goals and ideas for the future of the program," said former Bulldog quarterback C.J. Van Wieren, who came to the event from Denver, Colo. "It was also great to see the large turnout from the Bulldog football family. As alumni, there is a lot of support and excitment right now for the Ferris State football program."
More than 20 sponsors also played a large role in the success of the outing, including Buffalo Wild Wings, which offered special challenges for golfers on two different holes.
"The 29th annual outing was our largest ever with 150 golfers enjoying a great course at the Clear Lake Golf Club, which is owned now by some longtime football boosters in the Curries of Big Rapids," said Gridiron Club President Bill Scheible, also a Bulldog Football alum. "The course was in great shape, the day was perfect and the large turnout made for an excellent outing. Even more important, we had a large contingent of former football players and coaches that made the day close to perfect for this annual affair.
"Coach Annese had the opportunity to meet with all the returning players and gave a very inspiring talk at the dinner encouraging the players to stay in touch with their Bulldog family and we look forward to many of them coming back in the fall for our five home games," he added.
According to Annese, the former players enjoyed the day along with the coaching staff's efforts to connect with them. Alumni interested in receiving regular updates should contact Coach Annese via email at AnneseA2@ferris.edu.
"Our alumni indicated they've been extremely happy with our efforts to reach out to them thru various social media platforms," he said. "We encourage any former players interested in receiving regular updates to connect with us."
Ferris State will officially begin its 2012 gridiron campaign on the road with its lone non-league game on Thursday, Aug. 30, at the University of St. Francis (Ill.) in Joliet, Ill.
The Bulldogs' 11-game schedule in 2012 features five home contests at FSU's Top Taggart Field along with six consecutive night games to open the campaign. Ferris State's home opener is scheduled for Sept. 15 when the Ashland Eagles make the trip to Big Rapids to square off against the Bulldogs. Kickoff for the initial home game is slated for 7 p.m. (ET) under the lights.
Season and single-game tickets for the 2012 campaign are currently on sale now. For more information on ticket sales, please contact the FSU Athletics Ticket Office at (231) 591-2888 or visit www.FerrisStateBulldogs.com.
Below are winners from this year's golf outing:
Player's Cup - Bill Scheible, Steve Duchon, John Baylis, Mark Sarver
1st Men's - Jeremy Mishler, Marty Mohnke, Eric O'Neil, Aaron Waltz
1st Mixed - Bill Taylor, Ruth Hicks, Lauri Niskanen, Jim Niskanen