The Anteater Recreation Center wasn’t home to your average crowd of sweaty, iron-pumping students on Saturday night. Instead, it was filled with a different kind of sports fan-one with a big wallet and a love of the game.
Hosted by Jack and Mary Norberg, the annual Sports O’ Call Social and Auction was created to help generate scholarship funds for UC Irvine student-athletes. The Norbergs’ goal for the 2006 auction was to raise over $125,000, with all of the proceeds going to the UCI Department of Athletics.
‘We have a great medical center and a great arts department, but the reality is, people want to be behind a winning [sports] program,’ Norberg said.
‘In order to get winners, we need to get the students the scholarships they need to come to school here. It’s expensive.’
Inside the cruise ship-themed event, dozens of tables lined the walls of the ARC’s indoor track and both fitness studios, each displaying a variety of silent auction items, from private tennis lessons with women’s Head Coach Mike Edles, to an 11-day African safari worth $35,000. With the assistance of UCI athletes, local residents, UCI faculty and staff and former student-athletes perused the tables while sampling local wines and, by early evening, a significant number of bids had already been placed.
By 7 p.m., the scent of a diverse dinner rose from the basketball courts up to the second story, prompting guests to make their way to the makeshift dining room.
Representatives from 30 restaurants were on hand, providing samples from their menus. Spicy baby back ribs and smoked sausage from the Newport Rib Co. were popular among the many guests, as were the hearty portobello mushroom sandwiches from Panini Restaurant. Scandia provided a variety of delicate pastries for those who still had room for dessert.
To complete the dinnertime activities, the local Blues Racket Band was on hand, performing classic rock hits throughout the auction, meal and even afterward when the guests let their hair down and made their way to a massive dance floor.
Athletes and locals met, chatted and talked sports, and it quickly became evident that the UCI Department of Athletics has its share of fans and supporters. As the night ended, with dancing, margaritas and champagne, it was safe to say that Sports o’ Call 2006 was a great success.