Rus and Reena Peterson

Scholarship Gives Momentum, and Memory, for Lacrosse

Rus and Reena Peterson

Reena Peterson with her favorite lacrosse player, Trevor Baptiste.

DU Lacrosse Fans Support Team through Momentum Scholarship

Rus and Reena Peterson had recently moved to Denver when they learned that Bill Tierney was coaching the University of Denver lacrosse team. This was big news for them because they were avid fans of the sport, and Rus had attended Johns Hopkins during Tierney's winning tenure there as assistant lacrosse coach. The couple immediately bought tickets to the next DU game, where they were introduced to a team that would become like family to them.

They went from attending individual games to buying season tickets to becoming Gold Club members. Soon they were attending every game and knew all of the staff, coaches and players. They especially enjoyed hanging out in the Gold Club at Peter Barton Stadium while cheering on a team that was dominating the sport they loved. Everyone at DU Lacrosse knew Reena and Rus.

"These people pull you in and they make you feel like you're part of the family," said Rus. "It's just the Pioneer way. This is what was so special to Reena. The program at DU brought her in with open arms."

Reena especially appreciated being embraced by the team because as a young girl she was adopted from India and brought to live in the United States. "So she knew what adoption was like," said Rus. "She came out here to Colorado and fell in love with the way people treated her, and it really started with the DU program."

When Rus updated his will in 2016, he wanted to do something to support lacrosse. He had initially planned to make a gift to Johns Hopkins, but Reena suggested another idea. She wanted to do something for the team that had been so welcoming to her.

"There was something about lacrosse that struck a chord with her, and she wanted to see if we could make a little bit of a difference in some students' lives over the course of years to come."

With Reena's encouragement, the couple established a significant scholarship to benefit DU Lacrosse through the Momentum Scholarship Challenge. This matching gift program, which concluded on June 30, 2018, allowed donors to make a future commitment through a bequest while seeing the impact of their gift now. The University of Denver matched 25% of the gift with its own resources, making those funds available for immediate use.

"When these kids finish at DU, they're not going to have a career waiting for them in lacrosse," said Rus. "They've got to rely on academics, and so I'm hoping that our gift will keep some students in school through the whole four years, or maybe it will inspire them to continue with their own contributions to the program."

The couple's favorite lacrosse player was Trevor Baptiste. At an event in late 2017, he noticed them and came over to talk. Rus snapped a photo of Trevor and Reena, which turned out to be the last picture ever taken of her. She died unexpectedly three days later. In her honor, the team dedicated the DU Lacrosse documentary "Rush for the Gold" to Reena. She was as much a part of the team and the sport as they were.

"It tears at my heart to know that she's not here to see this," said Rus. "She would be ecstatic knowing that this money finally did get to the lacrosse program. Reena was instrumental in making us part of the Pioneer Nation. The legacy that she left behind will never be forgotten."

You too can create a legacy for the places and things you love, like the University of Denver. Contact Jon Kraus at jon.kraus@du.edu or 303.871.4619 to learn more.

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