|Money raised for BG's athletic archives (11-15-13)|
|Written by JACK CARLE Sentinel Sports Editor|
|Friday, 15 November 2013 11:23|
For 14 years, the men's lacrosse team brought positive national recognition to Bowling Green State University.
Now, 34 years after the sport was eliminated, despite winning over 75 percent of its games, members of the men's lacrosse alumni have banded together to bring a different kind of recognition to the program, its coach and to BGSU.
The lacrosse group has started a fundraising project to honor coach Mickey Cochrane, the former men's soccer and lacrosse coach at BGSU, and Don Cunningham, a former coach, sports information director and associate director of athletics emeritus at BGSU.
Cochrane and Cunningham started to preserve the athletic achieves at BGSU as a hobby, and Cochrane has continued that effort since Cunningham's death in 2000.
The group raised $150,000, surpassing its initial goal by $50,000; that money was presented to the BGSU Foundation last month when the group went public with the funding effort to reach a larger group of givers.
''This is not just an opportunity to help the school by preserving their history, but also to preserve the legacy of a lacrosse team,'' said Leif Elsmo, a former lacrosse player who helped jump start the project. ''And we jumped on it. We achieved our first goal and then some ... We recognized a special opportunity to take the work that Mickey Cochrane and Don Cunningham have done, which is amassing this great resource of archival information, and artifacts. We saw the need to endow the project, and fund it so that it can be here forever.''
The name for the archives will be the Cochrane-Cunningham Archives.
''We have a chance to etch in stone, this legacy of these 130 guys,'' Elsmo said. ''Our group got it going, funded it properly, and has provided a great springboard so that now the school can develop it, the other sports can get involved, and make this a reality.
''It will show some of the amazing history of the past ... It's a great recruiting tool, not just for athletes, but for students ... The archives for the school is the big picture, and we're proud, that through Mickey we are able to make that happen.''
For Cochrane, having the BGSU archives preserved was most important.
''We didn't want it to be shoved into a room somewhere, disposed of, sold, or anything else,'' Cochrane said. ''It is a most unique collection.''
Cheryl Windisch, Cunningham's daughter, is pleased that the men's lacrosse team started the effort to save the archives.
''That's the part that touches me the most, that this was initiated by the lacrosse team because they wanted to do something for Mickey while he could still enjoy that, and know that the future was taken care of; it was worrisome to him,'' she said. "And for my dad to be remembered 13 years after he passed away, that touches my heart, too.
''He and Mickey, they were just such a pair, doing all of that for all those years. It's a tribute to their friendship as well.''
The players are also involved in the project because of their love for Cochrane.
''It was a special group of guys, mostly from the East Coast, that said we're going to go out and give this Bowling Green lacrosse thing a shot,'' Elsmo said. ''Coach showed us how to play with character, class and dignity. We still have contact with him, and he has brought us back to this school.
''We are reconnecting with people, who were emotionally detached for the most part with the school, and giving them a reason to be involved,'' Elsmo added. ''We benefit through the archives restoration and presentation, and the school in general is reenergized.''
Phase two of the project includes development, fundraising, centralizing the artifacts, and the preservation piece, said Terry Smith, who came to BGSU to play lacrosse and soccer in 1965.
"We established a board, which is important for the continuity of this effort over an extended period of time,'' Smith said. ''I think it's going to be very, very successful.''
Cochrane hopes some of the written correspondence will go into the university archives, and the rest can be displayed at the Stroh Center.
''I like the concept it's going to try to fill that area in front which people can walk through. Hopefully all the space that would be needed, would be taken care of,'' Cochrane said. ''With the advisory board those guys set up, the future of it seems pretty well secured.''
Cochrane added the women's lacrosse team will help support the fundraising effort.
''It's a unique thing for me, the first two teams that came on board are two of them that are gone,'' said Cochrane, who also coached women's lacrosse.
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