USF Athletics: Aiming Higher

By Ashleigh Hollowell, Office of Development Communications Posted Tue, 02/12/2019 - 04:25

With nearly 300 student-athletes, 17 programs, and more than a century of competitive athletic history in San Francisco, the legacy of USF Athletics is strong. Today, the university, its athletes, and supporters are committed to building on this reputation while instilling a foundation for social responsibility in each student-athlete.

Our student-athletes carry out the mission of the university every day. They put their best selves forward in everything they do and constantly pursue the common good. They represent the USF family with great pride,” said Frank Allocco, executive senior associate athletic director for external relations. "The things our student-athletes are accomplishing on and off the field makes them stand out. I know they will continue to become strong leaders in the world after they graduate from USF."

USF Athletics has raised $29.5 million from generous donors over the past several years to renovate facilities, update equipment, and support athletes to become their best selves athletically and academically.

New turf, updated scoreboards, training and practice spaces, and expanded event spaces allow USF Athletics to raise the profile of all sports at the university and bolster the legacy of success on the field. Meanwhile, students are prepared to be advocates for social change off the field.

Being the Difference

Student-athlete Samantha Jehnings knew at age 6 that soccer was the sport that would shape her life. Years later, on her first visit to USF, she felt the same certainty that Negoesco Field would become her home as an NCAA Division I athlete.

“I think being a student-athlete at USF gives you a platform to influence things in a positive way,” Jehnings said. “Like when we host summer camps and get to teach kids in the community the sport we love. It’s giving back in the little ways we can with the platform and the resources we have that matters.”

Last fall, Jehnings earned United Soccer Coaches All-West Region honors, All-Conference honors from the West Coast Conference and was named to the West Coast Conference All-Academic team.

“Being a captain means I am given an opportunity to influence those around me on and especially off the field. I have been able to use my leadership position to encourage my teammates to feel truly comfortable expressing themselves and all of their views,” she said. “This has created an accepting atmosphere that allows all of us to grow and develop as women, which has benefited me enormously as I am openly gay and am constantly met with only positive responses and love from them all.”

Jehnings is a great representative of the university and the athletics program, Allocco said.

"Athletics programs unite an institution's alumni and students. It's something the entire university community wants to be proud of and be a part of," Allocco said. "At USF, it is our mission to always aim higher. We're aiming higher in athletics just as we are with our values. We are becoming the best we can be to support both the university and the broader community.”

Creating a Lasting Impact

As a student-athlete more than 40 years ago, Erik Gilberg ‘79 says USF taught him much more about himself and shifted his focus beyond basketball in a way that went on to shape his life. Now, as an alumnus, Gilberg and his wife, Anne Gilberg ’80, whom he met and fell in love with during his time at USF, support the mission to drive USF Athletics forward.

“I’m impressed with the direction, the coaching, prospective athletes, and messaging of the university from Fr. Paul. I saw a focus on both the education and the talent of student-athletes and the quality of individuals brought into the program," Gilberg said. “It’s important to raise the profile of university athletics, but preparing students for other things beyond athletics after college is equally important and USF does a great job with that.”

As for Samantha Jehnings, she is grateful for the athletes that came before her, like Erik Gilberg, and she is excited about the future for USF Athletics.

“When I think about all the support, I’m humbled. Knowing there are people who are so invested in us and in helping the programs grow is remarkable,” Jehnings said. "The soccer program has grown so much just since I’ve been here. Everyone who gives has done so much for us.”

To learn how you can support USF Athletics, contact Carli Thomas at 415-422-6006 or