St. Clair Announces New Scholarship Program for Varsity Athletes
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The Department of Athletics and Recreation at St. Clair College is pleased to announce a new initiative that will focus on athletics and academic excellence.
The Saints have introduced an innovative scholarship program for all of its varsity athletes that will support both athletics and academics.  The purpose of this program is to encourage not only the top student athletes from Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent to stay in the area and obtain a quality education, but to assist the St. Clair College coaches in recruiting top student athletes from across Ontario.
On entry, every St. Clair College varsity student athlete will receive the maximum amount of scholarship permitted under OCAA rules and regulations.  To retain the scholarship each varsity athlete must obtain a minimum of 2.0 GPA in each semester, with no failed courses.
Success in student athletics, across the range of varsity programs offered at the College level, has occurred at both the provincial and national level for St. Clair College.  St. Clair College has won National Championships in Women’s Golf (2005-photo attached) and Men’s Hockey (1975-76- photo attached).  In the past decade, St. Clair has won 14 gold medals in Provincial and National athletic competitions and 59 National and Provincial Championships in the history of the school.  The Men’s Hockey team has captured more provincial championships than any other college in Ontario.
Support for athletic programs has increased in recent years and the funds to sustain the new initiative will come from the contributions of individuals and groups that recognize the role that varsity sports play in the overall education of the college student.
Roy Conliffe, a former St. Clair hockey player and Student Athletic Association President, was very excited to hear about this announcement.  “This is a spectacular program. Hats off to the College and all of the people involved that made this happen. This will have a huge impact in raising the profile of St. Clair College athletics across the province.” Conliffe is currently the Vice President for George Weston Company and lives in Toronto.
Jack Costello, a former Athletic Director and Men’s Hockey Coach at St. Clair added, “The commitment and contribution of every student athlete is the foundation on which a proud and successful athletic tradition is built. Therefore, it is wonderful that St. Clair College is planning to reward every varsity student athlete for their contributions beyond the awards that are given each year to recognize outstanding individual performances and achievements.”
Ted Beale and Jay Shewfelt, the Varsity Athletic Coordinators at the College have urged the College to move in this direction for more than five years.  Both Beale and Shewfelt are confident that “the program will increase the graduation rate for varsity athletes” and, in the end, this should be the primary objective of any sports program at the post-secondary level.
John Reiner, one of the original members of a St. Clair College Saints Booster Club that was created more than 30 years ago, was encouraged by the new direction.  It is difficult for young men and women to combine academic excellence, varsity practices and a need to pay for an education with part-time jobs.  This new initiative provides a support system for any aspiring athlete to succeed in the classroom and to acquire the additional skills developed as a team player.  Congratulations to St. Clair College - we applaud their leadership.”
The Booster Club had its beginnings in April 1978, when Lou Bendo, former hockey star with the Windsor Bulldogs, and President of Bendo Realty and Insurance, contacted St. Clair College Athletic Director AI Hoffman, and assistant athletic director Jack Costello, with a proposal to develop a Businessmen's  Booster Club that would provide financial assistance to the Athletic Department. Both were in support of such an initiative and they proceeded with the necessary details that led to the formation of the Booster Club.  The first President of the Booster Club was Henry Masaro of Advance Flooring.
It was 1984 when AI Hoffman established the Athletic Scholarship program, which is now the primary focus of the Booster Club.  St. Clair was the first OCAA member college to offer Scholarships, and the preceding years have seen many of the other twenty-three colleges follow suit.
The Scholarships have been awarded to High School graduates in their first year at St. Clair College, who apply through an application process available at their respective High School, and a committee comprised of Booster Club members reviews and selects the successful candidates. Since the program's inception The Booster Club has awarded over $350,000 toward tuition costs of more than 300 deserving students.
The Booster Club continues to stage several fun-outings each year, such as curling, horseshoe, bocce ball tournaments, to promote camaraderie among the membership and update members on the affairs of the Club.  From the original eight members, the Club has grown to a current membership of 26 individuals, representing 21 business firms.
The Student Athletic Association President, Chad Dow is very excited about this program.  “Anything that can help an athlete succeed in and out of the classroom is a great benefit.  We know this will raise the profile of St. Clair College athletics and encourage more top athletes to attend St. Clair in the future.”
Christy Gatto, the current Director of Athletics and Recreation at the College stated “we are thrilled to be able to offer a scholarship to each of our athletes.  Our endowment fund for the athletic scholarships has now surpassed the one million dollar mark and increases almost daily with donations from former athletes and community supporters.  Athletics is a significant part of the College experience and these scholarships will help provide every varsity student with the opportunity to participate while pursuing their academic endeavors.  This will bring our varsity programs to a new level in sports and position the College as a leader in the field.”  

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