In their prime, former Texas A&M University athletes competed in a wide range of sports to bring home glory for the Aggies, but now many compete to give back to current students by coming together for one common sport: golf.
The Aggie Legends Golf Classic is an annual philanthropic golf tournament in which former Texas A&M athletes gather and compete to raise money for current students and student-athletes. Erika Eriksson ’89 and Robert Wilson ’92, lettermen from softball and football, respectively, first introduced the Aggie Legends Golf Classic (ALGC) in 2010 to raise funds for a new home for the Texas A&M Lettermen’s Association.
“Over a five-year period, we raised $80,000 to help fund the new Lettermen’s Lounge in Kyle Field,” said Eriksson, who serves as the tournament’s director. “After we knew the new Lettermen’s home was completely funded, we wanted to continue the golf tournament to allow lettermen to give back to students in other ways.”
For their next charitable cause, Eriksson and Wilson decided funds from the ALGC event would support an endowed Foundation Excellence Award (FEA) through the Texas A&M Foundation. FEA scholarships support outstanding undergraduates from historically disadvantaged groups often underrepresented in Texas A&M’s student body, including minorities and those who face significant economic hurdles. FEAs can be permanently endowed with a $50,000 gift and provide students with an annual stipend for four years. Although the group had five years to pay off its endowment, they completed fundraising for the scholarship in three years’ time, after their 2017 tournament, due to the support and generosity of ALGC participants and sponsors.
“Many athletes give back because they’ve been successful in their professional careers and have the resources to support charitable causes,” said Eriksson. “But there are some of us who can’t make a large gift individually. However, we can give back and make an impact as a team, and sports are all about a team mentality—that’s why we decided to establish a Foundation Excellence Award.”
The tournament is held at the Traditions Club in Bryan, where participants return to Aggieland for a day of golf, food and fellowship. Signed sports memorabilia and other valuable goods are up for bid at a silent auction that takes place during the day, while big-ticket items like concert tickets, trips and jewelry are offered at a live auction during dinner.
Former athletes from a wide range of sports and former Yell Leaders have attended over the years, as well as notable Aggie football coaches like R.C. Slocum and Jackie Sherill, who served as the auctioneer for the first few years of the tournament. Shane Lechler ’99, the current punter for the Houston Texans, attended in the past when the tournament was held during the NFL offseason. For years he couldn’t attend, he donated autographed memorabilia to be used as auction items.
“We have people that sometimes don’t even play; they just come to eat, talk and act as a gallery on the course,” said Eriksson. “Everybody just kind of hangs out and enjoys the atmosphere and the event. All sports have been represented over the years as well as all levels of athletes—Heisman winner, Hall of Famers, All-Americans and National Champions. You never know who will show up.”
The tournament is organized by volunteers who return every year to help sponsor and coordinate the event. The volunteers range from former athletes to friends and family members.
“The biggest thing we wanted to create was a day of camaraderie for all those who attend while giving back to Texas A&M,” said Eriksson. “And it doesn’t always have to be former athletes. Tournament participants include Aggies from as far back as the 1950s, so we’ve got the ‘new army’ alongside the ‘old Ags.’ We wanted this event to include the community and create a fun atmosphere that brings people together. The best thing about the Aggie Legends Golf Classic is that while we’re having fun, we’re raising funds for Aggie scholarships. Our motto is:
ALGC: Former Students Paying It Forward to Future Aggies.
The group’s Foundation Excellence Award will benefit its first student in fall 2019. For the 2018 tournament, the event’s coordinators plan to begin fundraising for an endowed Aggie Ring scholarship through The Association of Former Students. Registration for the 2018 Aggie Legends Golf Classic will open in late May 2018. The 9th annual ALGC event will be held in fall 2018. “One of the most rewarding and recognized things an Aggie can receive is their class ring, which is why that’s what we want to fundraise for next,” said Eriksson. “It further goes to show that the Aggie Legends Golf Classic is a powerful facilitator to raise funds for good causes, and we’re excited to give back in any way that we can.”
Learn more about the Aggie Legends Golf Classic and be part of the 9th annual ALGC event at aggielegendsgolfclassic.com. To support Aggie students with Foundation Excellence Awards and other scholarships, contact Al Pulliam ’87 below.