STORY Kerisa West | PHOTOS SUBMITTED
There’s nothing quite like the excitement of kickoff on a crisp autumn night. The blue turf, the roar of the crowd, the spirit of the band, and, most importantly, the skills of our beloved Boise State Broncos.
Every Bronco you see tackling an opponent on that field is also tackling a challenging mix of classes, homework, practice, games and serving in the community (a requirement of Boise State Athletics). The life of a student-athlete is exciting and rewarding, yet expensive. The average cost of a student-athlete investment per year is more than $35,000. The Bronco Athletic Association (BAA) provides the financial resources necessary for nearly 400 student-athletes in 19 sports to compete at a national level every school year in the form of scholarship support. Every dollar donated has the ability to change lives, including that of football player Jordan Happle.
“My scholarship has given me the opportunity to receive a great education and prepare me for life after football. Without this scholarship, I am not sure where I would be. It is truly one of the best things to ever happen to me,” said Happle.
Happle is just one of countless student-athletes who have a story to tell. Some Broncos may be the first in their family to attend college, while some come from families who would struggle to pay for college. A scholarship provided by the BAA may present the only opportunity to go to college and change that student and his or her family’s life.
Boise State student-athletes are truly an amazing example of determination and hard work. Not only are they all-stars on the field, they also excel in the classroom. The 2017 gymnastics team combined for an overall cumulative 3.84 GPA, they are showing that they have the skills to succeed during college and beyond.
The BAA is a non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization and was established in 1968 with 1,700 members, and now includes 4,000 members, including businesses and individuals who continually support student-athletes through gifts to the BAA, annual season ticket contributions, capital projects, scholarship endowments, sport enhancements and planned gifts. As the cost of education continues to rise, so does the need for members to help support these student-athletes and their scholarships.
“We’re asking people to partner with us,” said Natale Keffer, the Assistant Athletic Director – Development of the BAA. “We want people to ask how they can be a part of this. Or, if they are existing members, how can they help more?”
Besides knowing that their contribution is helping provide the best possible experience a student-athlete can have during his or her time at Boise State, members know that their donations also help Broncos prepare for a successful life after graduation. In 2016, the athletic department saw an 81 percent graduation rate, and 74 percent of Bronco student-athletes recorded a 3.0 GPA or above.
“The BAA has helped students reach their goals after graduation – in the NFL, the PGA and even moreso, outside the sports in which they compete collegiately,” said Keffer.
The secret is out. Boise is a great place to call home, which can be seen by the number of student-athletes who stay in the Treasure Valley after graduation and continue to be a part of the Boise and Bronco community.
“Truly, the BAA is making a difference. Not only in our community, but also for our student-athletes,” said Barbara Kennedy, a long-time BAA member and board member.
Becoming a BAA member has benefits outside of knowing you are making a difference and supporting your favorite student-athletes achieve their dreams. A BAA contribution is a charitable tax deduction, and results in other perks such as single-game and season ticket priority, exclusive member gifts, website recognition, a personalized membership card, a BAA decal, an invitation to the member appreciation event and much more depending on the level of membership. BAA membership costs as little as $100 annually, which provides support for student-athlete scholarships.