Bobbi and Steve Sauder stand with the student-athletes honored May 4 at a luncheon. The students are 2022 Sauder Scholars.

Special to The Gazette

A devoted alumnus of Emporia State University is carrying on his family’s legacy by leaving a significant gift to the Earl W. Sauder Athletic Scholarship Fund. The gift was announced on May 4 at the annual Earl W. Sauder Athletic Scholars luncheon.

Alumnus Steve Sauder and his wife, Bobbi, are both generous supporters of ESU Athletics. Steve’s father, Earl, established the scholarship in 2004 with a substantial gift in excess of $1 million. In speaking with his father years ago, Steve shared that his dad had contemplated the impact of what a $1 million gift would do for Emporia State University.

“I think it’s kind of ironic that a guy who was denied the opportunity to go to college, particularly to go to Emporia State, made one of the bigger gifts that’s ever been made in Division II athletics,” Steve said of his father’s 2004 gift.

After Earl’s passing in 2006, the Sauder family committed to carry on the tradition that Earl started. Steve and Bobbi made a 10-year pledge in 2013 which doubled the annual output of the scholarship.

Today, at the annual luncheon, Steve Sauder announced that he and Bobbi will continue their annual support, as well as grow the program to provide more scholarships each year in perpetuity through Steve’s own legacy gift.

This legacy gift will ensure that the Earl W. Sauder Athletic Scholarship will continue to support student-athletes for generations of students in the future. As part of the Together, Forward campaign, this generous bequest will also help strengthen the athletic program, allowing Emporia State University to continue to recruit high-performing student-athletes.

The luncheon where the gift was announced also recognized the current recipients of the scholarship, which is awarded to student-athletes who exemplify excellence both in their sport and in their everyday lives.

“I promise that each day I will work hard in the classroom, on the court, and in the community to be a great role model and citizen to those around me,” said Shelby Ebert, current recipient of the Earl W. Sauder Student-Athletic Scholarship.

Ebert, a second-generation Hornet, is on the volleyball team while her brother is a current member of the baseball team.

“This scholarship will benefit my family and I tremendously,” she said. “It will help my family pay for my brother and I to obtain an excellent education from a highly respected institution.”

The impact of the Sauder family’s generosity is still felt today. Some of the first recipients of Earl’s scholarship shared their gratitude as well at Wednesday’s event.

“It was an honor to receive the Sauder Scholar award,” said Trent Olivier, Class of 2007. “It allowed me to focus on my academics and athletics.”

Olivier and his wife, Kala, also an Emporia State alumna, currently live in Emporia, raising their two sons.

Each year, the athletes awarded represent all 15 intercollegiate sports offered at Emporia State University. Below is a list of the 2021-22 Earl W. Sauder Athletic Scholars and their sports.

Also honored during the luncheon are two recipients of the Bobbi Sauder Student-Athlete Nursing Scholarship — Riley Bernskoetter, volleyball; and King Morris, football.

(2) comments


Emporia is so fortunate to have the Sauder family. They have all done so much for our community, and their generous hearts are very much appreciated.


Great family .

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