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The Panther Club: Athletic Success Behind the Scenes

Updated: Oct 28, 2020

By: Maxmillian Robinson

When an athlete rises to stardom, we notice their accolades, accomplishments and past experiences that help define who they are today. However, we tend to leave out what happens behind the scenes, like how hard they need to train for each event or what relationships the star athlete had with their teammates. On top of that, who knows how their personal life was growing up?

Here at Adelphi, an unknown resource dwells inside our campus, The Panther Club. This club is a fundraising organization dedicated to the support of the Athletic Department. It serves as an avenue for Adelphi alumni, parents and friends to support the student athletes in our community and the classroom.

“The Panther Club is the obvious and easiest way for alumni and friends of the Adelphi community to get involved,” said Emily Dorko, Panther Club president. “It does not always mean a monetary donation, but the group is always looking for ways to engage alumni, which can range from volunteering to work a

From left: Emily Dorko, chair of the executive committee, fundraising event or

Jodie Sperico, executive director of Alumni Relations, coming back on

and Katie Grant, associate director of Alumni Relations. campus to speak to

current student athletes about career choices and life after playing sports.”

The Panther Club was initiated in 1993 by the former director of Athletics, Robert E. Hartwell. In the early 2000s, Maggie Yoon-Grafer, current Adelphi chief of staff, and Dina DiNome, former vice president of Advancement, formalized the structure to be the basis of what it has transitioned to today. It has historically been the Associate Athletic Director of External Relations that chairs the committee and works with the president of the Club, as well as the Athletic Director, to identify goals for the group and within the department. The first president was Steven Wirth ('70) from 1993-2006. Dennis Lind ('88) has been in the role since 2006.

Dorko said that the funds raised via the Panther Club benefit the various sports teams in many different ways.

“Based on a need, if we are able to supplement a fundraising campaign or specific project, we can communicate with the committee to see if this is the best fit for the funds at any given time,” she said.

This organization truly cares about the athletes and their steps to greatness. It’s led by an executive committee that meets periodically to coordinate club and fundraising activities through an expanding network of members. Dorko said that college athletes are not only committed to their sport full time, they’re also committed to being excellent with their schoolwork and serving as active members in the community, while also dealing with their personal life, good or bad. This is a huge commitment and isn't for everyone. However, the Panther Club makes it easier for the athletes to do their job, while also making life easier for the athletes. It consistently reaches out to make athletes successful in the field they choose to go to and continues to expand its outreach towards the future.

Dorko said that next year, the club plans to reassess the bylaws and structure to better align with the needs and demands of the department.

“Nevertheless, the Panther Club is always seeking new alumni to join the team in efforts to help our current student athletes, because they are the future,” she added.

“Adelphi has a special place in my heart,” Dorko said. “I was a two-sport athlete from 2009-2013 and I’m happy that I still have the ability to give back to my alma mater in various ways.”

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