Marketing and Communications

Alumni turned their love of basketball into scholarship support



Steve ’81, ’94  and Rhonda Melchi ’81 have come to think of the student-athletes on the women’s basketball team as their surrogate daughters.

Rhonda surprises the team with post-game cookies so often, that they probably aren’t surprises anymore. They host the women’s team and coaches in their Bowling Green home after each season. Their basement shrine to all things Falcon has steadily grown, as has their annual contribution to athletics through the Falcon Club. Men’s and women’s basketball memorabilia now dominates their basement décor.

It was their spirited support for Falcon basketball that led the Melchis to become the first donors to the Champions Circle, a program in which donors are paired with student-athletes during their athletic season. As part of the Champions Circle, the couple annually donates the equivalent of tuition and is symbolically paired with one scholarship athlete on the women’s basketball team.

“We don’t have kids, and so it’s kind of like we adopt them while they’re here. And we form relationships. It’s just very rewarding,” Steve said. “Hopefully those kids will model that behavior, and give back when they can.”

The Melchis will be among those honored for their substantial lifetime giving Friday at the Leadership Circle Gala, a new event hosted by BGSU to thank donors who annually give $1,000 or more to the University.

Steve and Rhonda met at their part-time jobs at McDonald’s during college. He earned his bachelor’s degree in education, and now works as a social studies teacher at Penta Career Center in Perrysburg, Ohio. She earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration, and works as treasurer for Bowling Green City Schools. Their giving to Falcon Club began soon after they married, and has continued for three decades.

The couple’s philanthropic support for Falcon athletics grew as they developed relationships with the players and coaches of the men’s and women’s basketball teams. The players often visit with fans on the court after the game, and the Melchis became friendly with many of the student-athletes.

“Our young people just really amaze me. They’re so articulate and kind and outgoing. I was not at that level when I was their age,” Rhonda said of BGSU student-athletes.

Steve agrees that the student-athletes are impressive.

“It’s a full-time job being a college athlete. They can do that  is required for their sport and still get the 4.0 in the classroom,” Steve said. “The pressure. People don’t know they’re lifting weights at 6 o’clock in the morning.”

They became close to one athlete in particular after traveling to an away game with the women’s team. It was on an Indiana-bound bus that a freshman player, Lindsey Goldsberry ’10, struck up a conversation with the Melchis. The Melchis were impressed with her friendly personality, outstanding work ethic and academic achievements. Goldsberry became the first women’s basketball player that the Melchis supported through Champions Circle. Steve and Rhonda look forward to her wedding this summer.

The Melchis expect to continue to sponsor women’s basketball players through Champions Circle.

“There’s a satisfaction of knowing that you’re helping somebody to get an education,” Rhonda said. “Because education is important to us.”

To contribute, visit givetobgsu.com. Or, write your check to the BGSU Foundation, Inc. and mail to: BGSU Foundation, Bowling Green State University, Mileti Alumni Center, Bowling Green, Ohio, 43403.