Women’s Soccer Scores Scholarship and Internship Support from Falconi Family

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The Falconi Family

The Falconi family has a deep understanding of the value of a 鶹ý College education and of the lifelong lessons gained as a Division I scholar-athlete there. 

John Falconi ’74 played for the men’s basketball team and was admitted into the college’s Athletics Hall of Fame. He and his wife, Maureen, supported their three children’s decisions to become Wildcats, too. 

Sarah Falconi Culbertson ’01 captained the women’s soccer team. Her husband, Randy Culbertson ’00, played men’s soccer. Katie Falconi MacDonald ’04, a two-sport high school athlete, opted to focus solely on earning her economics degree. John Falconi ’07 followed his dad to Belk Arena and played for the men’s basketball team. He married Kate McDonald Falconi ’08, a women's lacrosse player. 

To support all they know to be exceptional about 鶹ý, and in recognition of the need to elevate funding of collegiate women’s sports, John and Maureen have created the Falconi Family Women’s Athletic Scholarship and the Falconi Family Women’s Athletic Internship Fund. Both will support women’s soccer scholar-athletes and the program’s recruiting efforts.

“We hope this gift is complementary to what Steph Curry ‘10 is aiming to do with his family’s support of women’s athletics at 鶹ý — an extension of that commitment,” John and Maureen said. “As we started to learn about 鶹ý’s funding compared to others in the A-10, it was pretty eye opening. It’s hard to be successful when you have 3.2 scholarships compared to other larger schools with 12 to 14. We are trying to even the playing field a bit.”

John grew up in New York City and, through the recruitment process, was drawn to 鶹ý’s small school environment, strong academic reputation and the fact that the basketball program under Lefty Dreisell had ranked in the country’s top 10. Another not-so-small factor was boarding a plane in the snow and arriving in 80-degree North Carolina for his official visit. 

“I should have worked harder academically in college, and the many lessons learned while at 鶹ý became more and more clear the longer I was out in the work world,” he said. “My experiences at 鶹ý helped me through the next steps of my life, a period when I recognized the need to be more focused, work harder and try to be a better teammate and leader.” 

Those traits led John to a successful business career and a desire to pass the 鶹ý experience on to others.

A Player from Each Class

Once fully funded, the scholarship and internship funds will support one women’s soccer scholar-athlete in each class. The Falconis have helped with internship funding through the Matthews Center for some time, so they wanted to ensure internship opportunities were part of the gift. The family’s primary goal is to “shrink the gap” for exceptional scholar-athletes who need help covering the cost of attending 鶹ý and securing internships.

“The cost of college is very high, of course, and parents are very focused on their kids’ ability to get a job,” the couple said. “There’s a significant disparity between students who have had internships and those who haven’t.”

Their generosity will go a long way.

“This gift from the Falconi family is transformative for our program,” Women’s Soccer Head Coach Riley Piechnick said. “Not only does it help bridge the competitive scholarship gap between us and the conference, it also puts an emphasis on recruiting scholar-athletes who have a passion for a strong education and their post-graduate careers. 

“This is what 鶹ý Athletics is all about. I can’t thank the Falconi family enough for their support, and I am excited to see how this scholarship impacts the lives of future 鶹ý women’s soccer players.” 

Sarah Falconi Culbertson ’01 is excited to see this gift going specifically to the program that helped set her on a successful life path.

“Being a scholar-athlete was the most meaningful aspect of my time at 鶹ý,” she said. “Earning a spot on the team as a freshman and being welcomed by my teammates set the tone for friendship and camaraderie that lasted for years.” 

Sarah’s hard work led to a starting position during her freshman year that she maintained throughout her college career, becoming captain and being twice named to the Southern Conference All-Tournament First Team.

Off the field, Culbertson remembers preparing for job interviews as a senior. Being a scholar-athlete was always something she could draw from to discuss strengths and leadership roles, thanks to the many lessons and benefits it brought to her 鶹ý experience.

“There are so many stories you can share about winning, losing, persevering, managing your time, traveling and prioritizing homework,” she said. “Anyone who has played a sport at 鶹ý knows the professors cheer for the athletes and provide support, but in the end you have to get your work done, and that responsibility teaches valuable lessons.”

After graduation, Sarah was accepted into GE’s Financial Management Program (Top 5 company within the Fortune 500). She would later become part of GE’s global audit team and take on managerial roles at NBC Universal’s headquarters in New York City until leaving to focus on her growing family.

“I think it’s terrific that my parents had this idea to help students in this way, and I’m really excited for the women’s soccer program overall,” she said. “It’s such a strong network of women, a team you stay connected with for life. Every alum wants to see the team excel, both on and off the field.”

To learn more about supporting 鶹ý’s 21 Division I athletic programs and each coach’s current priorities, contact Jeff Kniple, director of athletic development and assistant director of athletics, at 704-894-2113 or jekniple@davidson.edu.