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Mark of Fame

July 10, 2006

Mount Union College has definitely cast its mark on Division III football winning its eighth National Championship this past fall, but the College is also making its mark in another arena. Mount Union graduates are continuing the winning tradition by making their mark in the professional football ranks on the business side of the spectrum.

Pictured (l-r) are Sara Lundenberger '03, Jerry Csaki '00, Ryan Rebholz '04 and Brian Proud '05.

Travel west on Route 62 to nearby Canton, Ohio and you'll find four Mount Union alumi are at the heart of professional football, working for the Pro Football Hall of Fame - Jerry Csaki '00, Sara Lundenberger '03, Ryan Rebholz '04 and Brian Proud '05.

Csaki, the educational programs coordinator, has been an employee at the Hall of Fame since 2000. He oversees the creation, development, marketing, implementation and facilitation of all educational initiatives including field trips, summer programs and teacher enrichment days. A sport management major at Mount Union, working with the educational programs at the Hall, is definitely a change for Csaki.

'It just shows that Mount Union has definitely prepared us to deal with a lot of challenges,' said Csaki. 'One challenge I'm currently dealing with is seeing the regression in educational field trips because of school budget cuts. It is really tough right now to keep our numbers up. However, the rewarding part is being able to work with the kids and associating closely with a lot of great people.'

Lundenberger, the development assistant, may have endured the greatest change of all the Mount Union graduates working at the Hall. Having a background in physical education, one might think that her role would be similar to that of Csaki's. In spite of this, she works closely with the endowment director and with the fund raising for the Hall's endowment fund - not exactly a position of choice for most education students.

'It was very difficult at first and some days are still extremely challenging because it is a completely different area for me,' said Lundenberger. 'Fortunately, education does have a wide range of areas. The liberal arts education I received at Mount Union gave me the general skills I needed.'

Raising money for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, with its association with the National Football League (NFL), does not seem to be that challenging of a task at first glance. However, the realization is quite the opposite.

'What most people do not realize is we are not a part of the NFL,' said Lundenberger. 'We are a non-for-profit museum. One of the toughest issues we run into on the development side of things is a misconception that we are a part of the NFL and we have lots of money. That is not the case.'

For Rebholz and Proud, both with a background in sport management, there is a clear satisfaction of working in professional football.

'It is great being able to go to a job that I love,' said Rebholz, a research assistant. 'I do not have a deep knowledge in the history of football because I'm only 23. Each day I am learning more and more about how pro football got to where it is today. That's the fulfilling part. I am constantly learning something new everyday and I stay up on what's going on today to continually build and improve our archives.'

Proud, the event marketing facilitator at the Hall of Fame, played for the Purple Raider football program during his time at Mount Union.

'Having played the sport, it is definitely a great feeling to get up and go to work everyday doing something you enjoy,' said Proud.

Proud is the facilitator for all the private events, including business meetings, rehearsal dinners, birthday parties and special dinners. Not many people realize that many functions can be held at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

'The Hall of Fame is a great place to hold events,' he added. 'Birthdays are the biggest, but we have held numerous private events. Right now, word of mouth is the best marketing tool we have. People come in and enjoy their experience and recommend us when they talk with their friends.'

With an organization such at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, it says a lot to have four Mount Union graduates on staff.

'Mount Union produces well-rounded individuals,' said Csaki. 'Sara (Lundenberger) is a great example of that. She has an education background but yet she is doing something on the opposite end of the spectrum. MountUnion has definitely prepared us.

'It has been a snowball effect as well,' he added. The sport management program at Mount has been growing each year, as has the alumni base of graduates now working in sports.'

'It shows that they (Mount Union) do a great job,' said Lundenberger. 'Graduates from Mount Union are well known and for us it is like a family. I didn't necessarily know Brian (Proud), Ryan (Rebholz) or Jerry (Csaki) that well in college, but because we went there, we get along so well and are always talking about the College. People realize Mount Union students are hard working and do a good job.'

'You get success from one Mount graduate and people see the great job they have done, and that begins to echo as more and more get jobs,' said Rebholz.

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