Anonymous donor gifts scholarship to a St. Paul school in honor of retired coach

An anonymous donor recently gifted a St. Paul private school a $100,000 scholarship in honor of a retired coach.

The endowment honors the legacy of a retired Saint Agnes Catholic School coach and administrator, Bob Ercolani, and school leaders say it's a contribution that could have a lasting impact on generations to come.

"This changes lives. It changes the trajectory of lives," the school's headmaster, Dr. Kevin Ferdinandt, told FOX 9.

Saint Agnes Catholic School has been a pillar in the Frogtown community in St. Paul for more than a century.

"Saint Agnes used to be a secret, it’s not a secret anymore," said Ferdinandt. "One of the things that I’ve said for years is that a school is as good as its teachers. And a school is as good as its culture among its students."

The scholarship is an endowment gifted in honor of Ercolani - a beloved football coach, teacher, and mentor who retired from Saint Agnes more than 20 years ago. The school says that the donor, a friend of Ercolani's, wishes to remain anonymous.

"He said, you know, I’ve been thinking a lot about Bob, and I’ve been thinking about how much he’s given to the school during the course of his 31 years there, and all I thought was I’ve got to give something in his name so that he could be memorialized at Saint Agnes," said Ferdinandt.

Now in his 70's, Ercolani says that the recognition was a total surprise. "I was breathless, I didn’t know whether to cry or what, it was just out of the clear blue sky," he said.

As for the endowment, Ferdinandt says the sky's the limit. "We’d like to see it get to $250,000 and eventually up to a million, our donor would like to see this at a million dollars," said Ferdinandt

A legacy defined by leadership and service, Ercolani will continue to make an impact. "I think the more education you have, the wider spectrum of things you can do," said Ercolani. 

"My hope is that this gives kids the opportunity to come who wouldn’t be able to come," added Ferdinandt. 

Saint Agnes School teaches pre-k through 12th grade. "The Bob Ercolani Endowed Scholarship" will fund four annual scholarships worth $2,500. The school says the scholarship is for students who show financial need, have a deep commitment to academics, and are active in athletics.