Local business and civic leader William “Bud” Acken and his wife, Tammy, are now Bluefield College Rams, specifically charter members of the Rams Football Booster Club, thanks to a major gift to the recently revived BC football program.
Surrounded by Bluefield College leaders during a recent ceremony on campus, Bud and Tammy Acken of Bluefield, Virginia, joined the ranks of nearly 100 other BC donors, who have given or pledged at least $5,000 to help launch the new Rams football program. The gift, they said, is just one way they can help make a difference for student-athletes at Bluefield College.
“Being a former college football player, myself, I know how important and how meaningful a football program can be to a college,” said Bud Acken. “With that in mind, Tammy and I felt like the need was greater than ever before to support not only Bluefield College, but Bluefield College football.”
Devoted sports fans, the Ackens have been longtime supporters of the private Christian college and its mission, having made previous contributions to the school’s Golfers’ Challenge and its all-sports Booster Club. As successful advertising entrepreneurs in southwest Virginia and southern West Virginia, they have also supported a variety of Bluefield College marketing and advertising initiatives.
“We are tremendously appreciative of Bud and Tammy’s generosity to Bluefield College and for their investment into the launch of our new football program,” said BC President David Olive. “They are dear friends of the college and have a large heart not only for this school, but for the entire community.”
A retired chief operating officer of Acken Signs — designers, builders and installers of company signs that serve as branding tools — Bud Acken said that football taught him how to grow in character, persevere, and maintain a positive attitude. Owner of Tammy Lynn Outdoor Advertising — a local billboard advertising company — Tammy Acken said she hopes the gift helps Bluefield College continue to grow.
“The fact that we have players on campus now makes this gift all the more real for us,” said head football coach Mike Gravier. “We know exactly what this money is going to help us do now, instead of it just being a concept or a dream.”
Bluefield College formally announced the return of intercollegiate football in June of 2010 after 70 years without gridiron competition and following an extensive four-year-long study to determine the feasibility of reviving the sport. Shortly thereafter, the college hired Coach Gravier, a coach with a history of launching new football programs and a track record of developing players both on and off the field, to begin club play in the sport this fall and full intercollegiate action in the fall of 2012.
Since then, nearly 100 donors, including the Ackens, have stepped up with a gift of at least $5,000 to help underwrite startup costs for the new sport. Coach Gravier said the gifts are helping purchase equipment and uniforms, pay for travel and recruiting, and cover other day-to-day operating costs.
“We wouldn’t be able to start and run this program without gifts like this from Bud and Tammy,” said Coach Gravier. “People like them are helping us realize this dream.”
About 65 players to date are on the Rams football roster for the 2011 exhibition season, which has already featured a few intra-squad scrimmages and a couple of exhibition games against Emory & Henry College and West Virginia Tech. Future home games at Mitchell Stadium will feature a Homecoming intra-squad scrimmage at 1 p.m. on October 15 and a matchup against the Greenville Titans at 2 p.m. on October 23.
For more information about the new Rams football team or becoming a charter member of the Rams Football Booster Club, call 276-326-4556, email [email protected], or visit the BC web site at www.bcrams.com.