Grapes & Grain raises $67,000 for URI women’s athletics

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Sixth annual event helps teams compete on national level

KINGSTON, R.I. – October 13, 2015 – For the women’s athletic teams at the University of Rhode Island, each heart-stopping victory, thrilling goal or aggressive spike can usually be linked to hard work and great coaching.

But now, these successes can also be connected to little-known program enhancements backed by URI’s An Evening of Grapes & Grain fundraiser. The sixth annual event, held in June and hosted by Lynn Baker-Dooley at the campus home of Baker-Dooley and URI President David M. Dooley, raised about $67,000 this year to support women’s athletics. The next Grapes Grain will be held June 11, 2016.

“We are happy to host this wonderful event each year, which brings together loyal URI alumni committed to furthering women’s athletics,” Baker- Dooley said. “I look forward to this event at the end of each athletic season. We are most grateful for all of the support provided to our women who compete on behalf of URI, and especially the support of Wakefield Liquors.”

“I would like to thank Lynn Baker-Dooley for hosting the 2015 Grapes & Grain event,” said Thorr Bjorn, URI director of athletics. “The event continues to get better and better, and the support we receive directly benefits our 11 women’s athletic programs. This is by far the biggest and most successful fundraising initiative surrounding women’s athletics at URI. I would also like to thank URI alumna Geraldine Barber for serving as the 2015 Grapes & Grain honorary chair.”

Each grant is made in response to coaches’ requests to help them upgrade their programs.

The projects and funding amounts are listed below:

• Women’s rowing, coach Shelagh Donohoe, $10,000 — Enhancements to the ergometer room in the Tootell Physical Education Center. An ergometer, or “erg” in rowing circles, is an indoor rowing machine that measures the energy consumed by an athlete and his or her physical output.

“Grapes & Grain has helped raise the level of all the women’s sports at the University of Rhode Island,” Donohoe said. “Rowing has used the funds raised through Grapes & Grain to buy new equipment, compete internationally and to upgrade our facilities. The money raised has enriched the student-athlete experience, and I would like to thank Lynn Baker-Dooley and the entire committee for all their time and effort.”

• Softball, coach Bridget Hurlman, $10,000 — A new outdoor batting cage.

• Basketball, coach Daynia La-Force, $10,000 — To help fund an international pre-season training trip. Under NCAA rules, such trips permit teams an extra 10 days to practice and an extra 10 days to play international opponents before their seasons begin. The dates have yet to be determined.

“The Grapes & Grain event is a great way to not only raise funds for the women’s programs, but it gives the coaches a chance to meet local supporters of athletics,” La-Force said. “We are thankful to Lynn Baker-Dooley for her commitment to advancing women’s athletics at URI. The funding we received helps us remain competitive with schools not only in our league but also across the nation. Every dollar allows our women’s basketball program to provide our players with a quality experience they will always remember.”

• Swimming and diving, coach Mick Westkott, $7,500 — Purchase of state-of-the-art starting blocks. New starting blocks will help keep the team competitive and allow it to host tournaments like the Atlantic 10 Conference championship.

• Cross-country and track and field, coach Laurie Feit-Melnick, $5,000 — Locker room enhancements.

• Volleyball, coach Bob Schneck, $5,000 – Expand the recruiting budget, allowing for additional travel time to recruit talented student-athletes.

• Women’s soccer, coach Michael Needham, $5,000 – Needham used the grant to challenge alumni and parents to match the $5,000 for the purchase of 20 Polar Heart Rate Monitoring Systems. The systems allow coaches to monitor players during training sessions using their phones or iPads.

• A grant for the women’s tennis team is pending as newly hired coach Tim Murphy settles into his duties.