On a January morning during winter break, 13 student-athletes at California State University, Dominguez Hills arrived on campus to receive a different kind of award. Representatives of the Toros Athletics intercollegiate sports teams welcomed Michael Rouse, vice president of philanthropy and community affairs at Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc. and his company’s gift of a fully-loaded 2011 FJ Cruiser, valued at $30,000. The sports utility vehicle will be made available through an opportunity drawing to be held during the Annual Toro Scholarship Golf Classic, this year on June 17.
Rouse, an alumnus of CSU Dominguez Hills (Class of ’83, MBA) and the newest member of the board of directors of the CSUDH Foundation, says that Toyota’s gift is part of the company’s desire to help the university in developing well-rounded students.
“People need to recognize that education is important,” says Rouse. “And that we’re not only educating the mind – we need to educate the body, and that’s what athletics does. Particularly in an era of budget cuts, businesses can step in to whatever extent possible and close [the financial] gap a little bit. Toyota is pleased to be able to support the athletic programs here with the donation of a vehicle. It’s a great way to generate some community support for your program.”
Many student-athletes are attending CSU Dominguez Hills on sports scholarships. Many more chose the university because of familial ties or by being recruited and mentored by Toros coaches.
Andre Turoldo, sophomore, marketing, is the younger brother of, who was named a Daktronics All-American in 2010. Andre Turoldo, who now plays forward on the men’s soccer team, says that his big brother was a great influence on his choice of university.
“He told me that it’s a great [soccer] program,” he says. “I used to come out to the games and just fell in love with the school.”
Jessica Murphy, a sophomore majoring in kinesiology, was recruited by women’s soccer coach Joe Flanagan after playing at West High School in Torrance.
“In the soccer program, [Coach Flanagan] coaches both the men’s and the women’s side, and I know he’s a huge reason why a lot of us are here,” says Murphy, who hopes that she can become a coach at CSU Dominguez Hills one day.
Sean Wardour, a sophomore majoring in business administration, is a right-handed pitcher on the Toros baseball team. The West High graduate says that he chose CSU Dominguez Hills for its proximity to home and its place in the California Collegiate Athletic Association.
“I saw that Dominguez was ranked nationally,” says Wardour, who aspires to a career in Major League Baseball. “[They’re in] the most highly competitive conference in the whole nation and usually, they’re one of the top-ranked teams in the nation.”
Allyssia Vasquez is a sophomore majoring in liberal studies and plays defender on the women’s soccer team. She says that the chance to win the FJ Cruiser by supporting Toro Athletics could attract more students to sporting events.
“If they knew that we were doing things like this, it might encourage students to come watch more games,” she says.
Baseball coach Murphy Su’a says that the Toyota gift is a boon to Toro Athletics given the challenges funding higher education in California.
“We’re in dire need because of the financial climate of the state and the state budget,” he says. “We have to find whatever means we can and Toyota has been absolutely huge in coming forward and donating this vehicle to us.”
Despite the windfall from the Toyota gift and the funds for scholarships that will result from the sales of tickets to supporters of the athletics program at CSU Dominguez Hills, Su’a says that the Toros’ real wealth lies in its human assets.
“We’ve got tremendous coaches here in this program and it’s amazing how successful our programs have been regardless of finances or lack thereof. We’ve got great coaches, great administrators, and great players. We have super athletes who give their all both on the field and in the classroom.
“We don’t look so much at not having the proper funding or the funding [that other schools have] as we do at having great human resources,” he says. “We are rich in that sense.”
To purchase tickets for the opportunity drawing, click here.
For more information on Toro Athletics, click here.