GRAND RAPIDS – Randy Phelps fell in love with Bulldog hockey right from the start. As a college freshman in 1978, at what is now Ferris State University, it was essentially love at first sight as Phelps tried out for the team.
These days, as owner of Grand Rapids-based HNI Incorporated, the 1983 Ferris graduate still has a passion for Bulldog hockey that burns at least as bright, today, as it did more than 30 years ago during his undergrad years. Having earned two associate degrees, one in Real Estate and one in Insurance, and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration – all from Ferris – Phelps’ commitment to Bulldog Hockey and Bulldog Nation couldn’t be stronger.
Randy’s wife, Nancy, is a 1984 Ferris College of Business graduate. Randy and Nancy’s son, Derek, is a current Ferris student. As parents, Randy and Nancy understand what scholarships can mean to families covering the cost of a college education. Having already established the Randy and Nancy Phelps Family Scholarship Endowment, the Bulldog Athletic Association’s “Be a Playmaker” campaign came into focus as another opportunity for the family to give back to Ferris. The ability to give back and to help ensure the stability of head coach Bob Daniels’ Bulldog hockey program, for years to come, was too good to pass up for Randy and Nancy.
“We’re so proud to support the hockey program. Honestly, Ferris’ hockey program is something that we should all be proud of,” said Randy, a member of the board of directors of The Ferris Foundation, an organization that provides scholarship assistance to students who might not otherwise have access to a Ferris education and makes available financial support for faculty study, exploration and service. “It’s not every day or everywhere you get the privilege of seeing world-class college hockey right here in our backyards. Bob has done a great job and we couldn’t be more proud to have him leading our program.”
The “Be a Playmaker” campaign has Ferris alumni and fans, like Phelps, even more fired up for Bulldog hockey’s continued success. The Bulldogs are coming off of another strong season on the ice finishing as 2013-14 regular-season champs of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association and winning the McNaughton Cup. Ferris reached the WCHA Final Five championship game and was a single victory away from earning a trip to the NCAA Frozen Four for the second time in three seasons.
Bulldog pride, particularly among new and old program fans, is on the rise, Phelps believes.
“‘Be a Playmaker’ shows that there is a commitment, on behalf of the hockey community, to have Ferris continue to grow as a Division I hockey program,” Phelps said.
Committed supporters, like Randy and Nancy Phelps, inspire Daniels, a good friend of the family.
“Randy Phelps has been a longtime generous supporter of Ferris State University and the hockey program,” Daniels said. “With his latest gift to the program, via the ‘Be a Playmaker’ campaign, he will help to ensure the strength and foundation of FSU hockey for future generations of players, alums and fans. On behalf of the Ferris State Hockey Program, I would like to thank Randy for this substantial donation.”
Phelps is proud to with affiliated at Ferris and particularly at this moment of history. He sees not only top-notch student-athletes coming to Ferris, but high-caliber students, in general. Phelps sees today as a great time for people to make Ferris their No. 1 choice.
“Ferris is becoming a first choice for a lot of young people who now fully understand that they can play for a great hockey program and get a great education that will prepare them for success in life after college,” he said. “It’s a great time to be a Bulldog.”
From left to right: Ferris State University hockey player Jason Binkley, donor Randy Phelps, player Justin Buzzeo, Derek Phelps and player Simon Denis.