Mercyhurst was recently announced as one of the 21 finalists for the NCAA Division II Award of Excellence in recognition of efforts made in the Fighting for Folgs event and Mike Folga Legacy Scholarship.
“I heard about the nomination about a month ago and was excited for everyone that put so much time and effort into making sure the event ran smoothly,” said Athletic ommunication graduate assistant Haleigh Giebel. “More importantly, I’m beyond excited for Folgs and the Folga Family.”
In January 2019, the Mercyhurst Student-Athlete Advisory Committee hosted “Fighting for Folgs” to raise money for long-time men’s ice hockey equipment manager Mike Folga, who had been diagnosed with cancer. Folga died in August.
“From the athletic staff to the Mercyhurst community to the hockey world, it was amazing to see how many people wanted to get involved and help make the event possible,” Giebel said. “We all wanted to make sure the event would be special for Folgs, because he did so much for us.”
Since his passing, the Senior Class Gift Committee created the Mike Folga Legacy Scholarship in recognition of his journey and optimism. This scholarship is to be given to a student who encounters a major setback that could inhibit their education, such as an illness, or financial or family problems.
Since 2008, the NCAA award has been given annually to a school that exemplifies excellence in one of Division II athletics’ six values: learning, service, balance, passion, sportsmanship and resourcefulness.
“I believe Mercyhurst deserves this award not only for the merit and additional funds received to help with other events, but to truly show the appreciation and admiration for Mike Folga and everything he has done and accomplished in his life,” Student-Athletic Advisory Committee president Leah Kern, said.
“Mike was not only an amazing employee for multiple teams and organizations, but he truly was an incredible leader, friend and innovator in his field.The process of choosing a winner for the awards consists of a committee of athletics administrators narrowing down colleges and universities who have conducted events that allow students to give back to their communities. The winner is then selected by the National Division II Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.
This year’s winner, MSU Texas, was announced at the Division II business session on Jan. 25 at the 2020 NCAA Convention in Anaheim, California. Before the winner was announced, both Kern and Giebel expressed that no matter the out-come, both were grateful to be a part of such a historic event in Mercyhurst athletics.
Folga and his family were invaluable members of the Mercyhurst community, they said. Kern indicated that the amount of support and care by the Mercyhurst community helped create a great event. MSU Texas was awarded $3,000 with the first runner-up receiving $1,500 and the second runner-up receiving $1,250.
All other finalists will receive $500, intended to facilitate future community engagement events. According to Giebel, Mer-cyhurst making the final round not only means a lot to the university as a whole, but also to each and every individual that Folga touched in his life.
“Folgs was the kind of guy that would drop anything and everything for anyone, even if it wasn’t hockey related,” Geibel said. “He earned any and every award out there and deserves to be remembered in every way possible.”