Save CSUB Sports dinner draws community, alumni support

Save CSUB Sports dinner draws community, alumni support
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. -- It was back in February when four sports teams at Cal State Bakersfield -- wrestling, tennis and men's and women's golf -- were going to be cut because of budget issues.

"I was in tears for about a week-and-a-half," said women's golf captain, Jenna Barnett. "It hurt a lot."

After the initial shock, the athletes put their skills into practice.

"As wrestling has taught me, you can't mope around," said Riley Orozco. "You got to get right back up and keep going."

His teammate Mitchell Monterio added, "I was pretty upset that my program got cut, then we found out the problems and started being proactive about it."

One of their proactive efforts was held Saturday night. A Save CSUB Sports dinner and auction was held at the Jam Event Center.

The teams need to raise $1.4 millions to keep their sports alive.

They're getting help from the community and a special alum. Stephen Neal plays for the New England Patriots now, but he got his start as a wrestler at CSUB.

He said his experience at CSUB helped him get to where he is today. "What I learned from Cal State is you don't go into life hoping for something, you go expecting success. And that hard work pays off," he said.

And those are lessons athletes are still learning today.

"Golf in general makes you a better person. It brings out honesty and integrity," Barnett said is what she gained from the sport.

For Orozco, it was a little more personal. "Wrestling kept me stable in a very dark time my life when I could have made bad choices," he said. "Wrestling kept me on the straight path."

Even though the future of the four teams isn't certain these athletes will keep fighting.

"We'll come out of this stronger and I believe we're going to be back," said Orozco.

Before Saturday's event about $408,000 had been collected. It's estimated that $84,000 was made during the auction alone, and that doesn't include money from the ticket sales or silent auction.