Officials with the University of Maine at Presque Isle recognized the Maine Community Foundation and local donors who have given a combined total of more than $50,000 in support over the next two years to the University’s new NCAA Division I Nordic Ski program. The recognition ceremony took place during a special event held on Thursday, Oct. 29 in the Campus Center.
The event served as a celebration for the ski program in achieving its new NCAA status and as an introduction of the new ski team and its new coach – Alexei Sotskov – to members of the region’s skiing community. At the start of the event, University officials held a short recognition ceremony for major donors to the ski program.
The Maine Community Foundation awarded $6,000 to the University to jump-start its top-tier athletic program. In addition, several local business owners and ski enthusiasts provided donations to the University to ensure that the Nordic program continues to grow. Attending the event on behalf of the Maine Community Foundation were Sandra Gauvin, Vice Chair of the MCF’s Aroostook County Committee; John Pelletier, Aroostook County Committee member; and Pam Scheppele, Aroostook County’s staff representative for the Foundation. Those in the community who provided support to the ski program include Soderberg Construction, S.W. Collins Co., Kieffer Insurance, Nordic Heritage Sports Club, Thompson-Hamel, LLC, Smiths Farm, and other generous donors.
“We are delighted to be recognizing the Maine Community Foundation and several members of the community for the support they have given to our Nordic Ski program and for their vision of what our student-athletes are going to be able to accomplish at the NCAA Division I level,” President Don Zillman said. “With a nationally recognized coach leading these outstanding athletes, and the support of our community behind them, our program is now poised for great things.”
The Maine Community Foundation grant was made from the Pinetree Fund for Aroostook County at the recommendation of its advisors. Since opening its doors in 1983, the Maine Community Foundation has been partnering with donors and community groups to strengthen Maine through grants and scholarships.
“This grant is an ideal example of how the Maine Community Foundation seeks to partner with community members to help strengthen their communities,” Scheppele said. “We look to ‘kick-start’ programs and then watch those programs flourish under the direction of those who know what’s best for their community.”
The Maine Community Foundation grant and the generous local donations will help to offset the costs of team equipment and maintenance expenses, entry fees and the many other expenses associated with preparing and competing at the Eastern Intercollegiate Athletic Association (Eastern regional NCAA program) carnival races.
“It is an honor to receive this much support from the County for our Nordic Ski program,” Coach Sotskov said. “From the program’s perspective, I can provide this assurance: this group of dedicated and talented athletes have and will promote this University and the County throughout the New England region in a very positive way. I am very excited about the upcoming season and very proud to be a part of this team, the University and The County.”
For more information about the Maine Community Foundation, visit www.mainecf.org. For more information about UMPI’s Nordic Ski program, contact Coach Sotskov at 768-9689.