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Chico State

Football Alumni Raise Funds for Athletics Scholarships

(Jason Halley/University Photographer)

Wildcat camaraderie forged on the gridiron lives on thanks to the generosity of the program’s alumni and their efforts to support the educational pursuits of today’s youth.

Dozens of Chico State football alumni will assemble this summer for their annual gathering to celebrate a milestone of a years-long drive by awarding scholarships to support students’ dreams of higher education.

The Wildcat Football Alumni Board has raised nearly $50,000 in recent years with a goal to distribute multiple $1,000 scholarships annually to descendants of Wildcat football alumni. Now, they are ready to announce the inaugural awards. Those eligible will be enrolled in at least 12 units at a college, community college, or vocational school.

“We are really excited about being able to finally do this. It’s been a long time coming,” said Paul Lema (Physical Education, ’77), chairman of the scholarship committee and vice president of the board. “We will have the parent or grandparent or great-grandparent actually present the scholarship of whatever is given away, so that will be really special.”

The football program ended after its 1996 season, but generations of players have stayed in touch and continue to gather each year to celebrate its legacy.

The group will hold its annual get-together in Chico from July 14–15. All Chico State football alumni are invited. They will meet at The Oasis at 1 p.m. Friday, July 14, for lunch, then move to University Stadium for “Wildcat Challenge” festivities at 2 p.m. Events will include low-exertion activities, football skills, and a team picture.

On Saturday, July 15, the alumni will host their annual golf tournament at Bidwell Golf Course, with a 7 a.m. check-in and 8 a.m. tee time. Each $150 fee includes a $91 gift to the scholarship fund.

They are also offering opportunities to sponsor each of the 18 holes on the course at $100 per hole, with signage to recognize the donor or sponsor. Please contact Dick Young at or 530-713-0236 if you are interested. For the first time ever, the alumni participants can bring a friend.

To cap the weekend, a Saturday evening banquet will be held at Almendra Winery in Durham. Cocktail hour starts at 6 p.m. and dinner follows at 7 p.m. with a cost of $50 per person. The highlight of the evening will be the introduction of the first five scholarship recipients.

Dinner and golf reservations may be made on the Wildcat Football Alumni website.  For the banquet only, you may also contact Lema at or at 530-321-3456 to make a reservation.

With thousands of former players, many Wildcat football alumni have college-aged children and recognize the increased difficulty of funding an education, and they see scholarships as a perfect way to extend the program’s impact on campus. Setting up the scholarship separately from the University’s financial aid system created flexibility to support Wildcat family regardless of where members pursue an education. With support from Mark Francis (Business Administration, ’82), president of Golden Valley Bank, they were able to secure the nonprofit status to establish the fund and look forward to continuing to grow it.

For more information, contact Board President Carlos Jacobo at 707-888-4894.

Photos from the 2017 Wildcat Alumni Football Reunion

  • Wildcat alumni of the Chico State football team came back to check out the new Strength & Conditioning Center during their three-day reunion to reminisce about their time playing the game.
  • Wildcat football alum,Don Carlsen points to a photograph of himself in Acker Gymnasium.
  • Wildcat alumni of the Chico State football team came back to the field during their three-day reunion to reminisce about their time playing the game.

*All photos Jason Halley/University Photographer