Columbia athletics

Columbia Athletics honors Robert K. Kraft

NEW YORK—Columbia Athletics honored New England Patriots owner and graduate Robert K. Kraft ’63 with a special Saturday morning reunion at the Campbell Sports Center. The purpose of the event was to thank Kraft for his continued support with the annual Robert K. Kraft Financial Aid Scholarship he has provided to countless Columbia football players over the years.

A number of former football players and alumni were on hand to celebrate Kraft’s lasting impact. The reception offered former players the opportunity to thank Kraft for his generosity and gave Kraft the chance to speak to the student-athletes whose lives he touched. The event took place before Columbia Football’s annual football game

Over the years, Kraft has provided financial support to Columbia Athletics in the form of annual college scholarships, facility upgrades, and other fundraising projects. In addition to athletics, Kraft’s impact was also felt in academia, as he served two terms as a trustee of Columbia University. On October 13, 2007, Columbia’s football field was named Robert K. Kraft Field in his honor.

Among the accomplished list of former Columbia football players who directly benefited from Robert K. Kraft scholarships, one played in the National Football League, eight were All-Ivy League selections, six earned Academic All- Ivy League, eight were voted team captains, two were voted recipients of the Sid Luckman Team Most Valuable Player Award, 12 won various other team awards, and 28 were three-year winners. A full list of players who have benefited from Kraft’s generosity is posted at this link.

Players in attendance included Matthew Barsamian ’07, Sean Brackett ’13, Charles Britton ’05, William Burke ’92, Jarel Cockburn ’02, Ralph Hudson ’98, Jared Katz ’17, Nathan Lenz ’11, Josh Martin ’14. , Michael Martinic ’00, Miguel Medrano ’98, Adam Mehrer ’11, Michael McGrath ’18, Matthew Moretto ’11, Bryan Paul ’92, Michael Sclafani ’94.

Kraft, who typically attends several Columbia football games each year, spoke about his experience attending and playing football at Columbia.

“Growing up in Brookline, Massachusetts, I was admitted to two Ivy League schools and only one gave me a full scholarship: Columbia,” Kraft said. “Columbia has helped change my life and prepare me for the world in many ways. It was a great experience to go to school here in New York. Looking back, the basic curriculum was a new experience for me academically Normally I wouldn’t have taken many of these courses but it turned out to be beneficial for me Football was awesome the best thing you can do to learn life Play football helps bring out the best in people and it will be the best experience of your life. With all that Columbia has given me, we have set up a scholarship to give back. It has been an honor and a privilege to give back to Columbia.

Former players introduced themselves and talked about the experience of playing football at Columbia. Current New York Jets linebacker Josh Martin 2014 spoke about the impact Kraft has had on him.

“Thinking back to when I was deciding where I wanted to go to school, financial aid was a huge issue,” Martin said. “I had several FBS scholarship offers, but I knew Columbia was where I wanted to be. To be able to make it a possibility for me was the best decision I ever made, even more impactful than playing football in the NFL. Playing football and graduating from Columbia has opened so many doors for me and given me so many opportunities. In the spirit of giving back, I have to say that I try to involved in the community especially in the Harlem neighborhood and I was nominated for the board of trustees of Harlem School of the Arts Having Columbia on my resume has helped me and will continue to help me when my days football will be finished. I have to say that Mr. Kraft made it all possible.

Kraft was introduced by Patricia and Shepard Alexander Head Coach of Football Al-Bagnoli and Campbell Family Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Pierre Pilling. Pilling promised to buy a championship ring for Mr. Kraft if Columbia won an Ivy League football championship in the future.

“It’s amazing how in life certain things go on a loop,” Pilling said. “And today is a great example. Thinking about Mr. Kraft Fellows and being able to examine the facts around the group collectively with a variety of professions, including architects, doctors, contractors, military service, we are very grateful for what we do and how we are represented by our former student-athletes. It is a proud moment for us to make that connection today. Mr. Kraft has been a huge supporter of our athletics program and this university.

Additionally, Kraft took the time to speak to the current 2018 Columbia Lions. His message was about the benefits of football for him.

“There is no better experience in life than playing football,” Kraft said. “Of all the great things you experience at Columbia, the highlight will be playing football and what you build together. The camaraderie, the relationships and what you build together as a team is priceless. Nothing beats winning. What you are going through now may be frustrating at times, but it will be the best experience of your life.”

“You are all very lucky to be part of an environment and an organization that gets it. Last year we (Columbia and the New England Patriots) both came close to accomplishing something very special. All the resources are here and the commitment is there. . We learned in the NFL that great players don’t win championships; great teams win championships. It’s our advantage in the NFL that we can play with less material. I’ll be rooting hard for you. You’re my second favorite team!”