Donors and Difference-Makers

Husky pride = giving back for volleyball fans

 

From athletics to academics, the Remaks show their love for The UW

Ben and Nancy Remak stand amid decades of treasured UW memorabilia in their Kirkland home. A photo of them enjoying lunch with iconic quarterbacks Sonny Sixkiller, Warren Moon, Hugh Millen and Brock Huard. Ticket stubs, banners, hundreds of trinkets and tchotchkes. And a mound of volleyballs lovingly autographed by season after season of grateful Huskies.

Following one of Husky Volleyball’s most successful years, reaching the NCAA’s Elite Eight with a 31-3 record, the Remaks are among the team’s — and the University’s — biggest fans.

“They mean so much to the girls,” says Head Coach Keegan Cook. “It’s a reminder that these student-athletes are part of something much bigger than themselves when they see Ben and Nancy and how much they love the program and how committed they are to the University in all facets of their lives.”

The couple met during college — Nancy at the UW, first a history major and then earning an MPA at the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance, and Ben at Central Washington. He says he became a Husky fan “to get the girl.” They married in 1979 and bought their first season football tickets that year.

They went to their first UW volleyball match in 2003, after their daughter, Elsa, began playing the sport in elementary school. It ignited yet another Husky passion — and “passion” is putting it mildly.

The Remaks have endowed scholarships in the History Department, the Evans School and for UW Volleyball, recently adding to their endowments to make an even bigger impact. Through the years, they have mentored several student-athletes, hosted team dinners, become close to many players’ families, and traveled the nation to countless away games.

In 2014, they donated half the cost of a dazzling purple, state-of-the-art volleyball court — the only one of its kind in the conference — to improve the safety, health and competitiveness of the team. Coach Cook calls the gift “transformative.”

“That court has become synonymous with Washington volleyball. When the players and families and fans come out and see it, it says ‘this is a volleyball school.’ It’s a different level of commitment,” he says.

For Nancy and Ben, their generosity is a humble way of paying forward the benefits that their education, careers and lives have given them.

“Life has been really good to us. Why wouldn’t we choose to help others?” Ben says.

“UW Athletics does things the right way,” adds Nancy. “Look at the graduation rates. Look at these wonderful young women and men. It’s an honor to support them.”

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