Generous donor helps women athletes put up a good fight

The women's lacrosse team honored Mark Misko, in the green coat, after his donation of pink uniforms for the team's annual Pink Game, which raises money to fight cancer.
The women’s lacrosse team honored Mark Misko, in the green coat, after his donation of pink uniforms for the team’s annual Pink Game, which raises money to fight cancer.

Mark Misko ’87 is a big supporter of women’s athletics at University of Detroit Mercy. But it started in a small way.

About seven years ago, Misko attended what is known as The Pink Game, a game played to raise awareness of breast cancer. All proceeds from the game go to Gilda’s Club, a nonprofit organization that provides support for all people touched by cancer.

“The other team was in pink from head to toe and we only had pink shoelaces or wrist bands,” Misko remembered. “So I thought I could do something about that.”

The “something” he did was provide the team with pink uniforms the first year and head-to-toe pink in the following years. He has done three different versions of pink uniforms for the basketball team and this year he surprised the women’s lacrosse team with pink jerseys for their Pink Game and golf shirts for the women’s golf team. He hopes to be able to support the other women’s teams in the same manner in upcoming seasons.

Before long he realized the women’s basketball only had one option for away uniforms, so he purchased blue uniforms for road games. Then, the team was in need of updated locker room facilities, so he helped them out. Then the office needed new computers, and Misko helped out there, too.

“I’ve always supported Detroit Mercy’s athletics in general,” Misko said, dating back to the mid 1970s, long before he earned his business degree in finance from University of Detroit. “I haven’t missed a men’s or women’s home basketball game in a while and sometimes I go see them when they’re on the road.”

Misko says he has the time to show his support because he retired in 2007 after a decades-long career at Ford Motor Company that started in the mailroom, and included many different positions from the call center to plant operations. He also works as a volunteer at the Penrickton Center for the Blind.

Head women’s basketball Coach Bernard Scott says the team is very appreciative of Misko’s support.

“Because of Mark, we’re able to do some things we’d not be able to do for the team,” Scott said. “They are all things we need to help us be successful.”

So how did this quiet, humble man become such a patron of women’s athletics? By getting to know the players.

“They all try really hard and they’re all really great students and classy ladies,” he said. “It was easy to support them because of that.”

There’s also bigger reason, Misko said.

“This is a great school and I want to see it, in general, do better when it comes to competing,” he said. “I want our athletes to represent the school right. And I can afford it, so why not?”

You can support Detroit Mercy women’s athletics by giving online at community.udmercy.edu/athletics-donate.

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