By Fatin Amin
Ducky’s Sports Lounge of Tampa, located on West Kennedy Blvd., has collaborated with the University of Tampa to create an endowed athletic scholarship worth $50,000.
A total of four schools in Florida were picked by Ducky’s to be awarded the scholarship, and the sports bar has agreed to a five-year pledge to raise the money. Ducky’s established “UT Wednesday,” where every first Wednesday of the month, a total of their earnings for that day will go toward the scholarship. Once the total amount has been reached, the interest rate from the $50,000 will be awarded to an incoming freshman.
Anthony Prieto, a co-owner of Ducky’s is looking forward to working with UT through building the scholarship and creating a relationship with the school.
Everyone at the university is great,” said Prieto. “They have been extremely helpful from day one. Ducky’s is a sports-oriented restaurant and the University of Tampa has a great sports program.”
The first UT Wednesday that was held on Sept. 2 at Ducky’s, gave Prieto an insight as to what the faculty, staff, and the Tampa Bay community thought of the event.
“The response was pretty good,” said Prieto. “Feedback from faculty and staff from UT that actually went was really good. They thought the food was good and atmosphere was great.”
Schezy Barbas, Director of Major Gifts at the Office of Development and University Relations at UT, was approached by Ducky’s and she worked closely with Prieto to create the scholarship.
“Ducky’s contacted us because they were interested in creating an endowed scholarship for a student-athlete,” said Barbas. “They reached out to UT as part of an initiative of the owners or partners to give back to the community by supporting students.”
Barbas stated that the relationship UT has with Ducky’s in creating the scholarship would be a good way to promote the school’s athletics and name.
“UT attracts and recruits many deserving student athletes for whom financial assistance is important, and we were pleased to work together with Ducky’s,” said Barbas. “So this partnership is a tremendous benefit for future students.”
Barbas hopes the scholarship will be a success and that it will continue to aid student athletes who wish to play at UT.
“When completed, the endowed scholarship will be awarded to a student-athlete, for his or her freshman year,” said Barbas. “The scholarship can be awarded each year to the same student for the remainder of the student’s undergraduate education at UT, as long as the student continues to meet the selection criteria.”
Ducky’s reached out to UT in the early spring of 2015, according to Prieto. The collaboration is still in its early stages, but coaches are interested to find out what the scholarship has to offer.
Chris Catanach, the head coach of UT’s women’s volleyball team, has not heard much about the scholarship but gave his personal view about the scholarship.
“I think that is pretty neat and I just heard about it,” said Catanach. “The scholarship is always a good thing for kids. My initial reaction is that it is a positive thing.”
Catanach stated that it is a very unique venture between a school and a restaurant to create a scholarship for incoming freshmen.
“I haven’t found many restaurants in my years that are willing to commit to those major funds,” said Catanach. “I assume Ducky’s wants to generate patrons out of it, whether it is university employees, staff, faculty or students. I’m assuming they have a motive to it as well.”
The athletic department here at UT is looking forward to the development of this relationship with Ducky’s. Coaches, and athletic staff hope that the scholarship will grow and will eventually become a yearly affair to benefit the school and student-athletes.