By – Teagan Rasche
By day, she’s a Network Manager for Cigna Health. By night, she’s the face of the Fiesta Bowl’s Ambassador program and oversees the 26 active members.
While volunteering at the 2017 PlayStation Fiesta Bowl, Monica Kruck ran into a familiar face behind the scenes at State Farm Stadium, Penn State Head Coach James Franklin.
She couldn’t believe it.
Kruck remembers him as a former high school player her husband, Steff, was trying to recruit back in the 1990s. And now, he’s a “big time coach,” Kruck said.
It was her most memorable moment of her six years volunteering with the Fiesta Bowl.
“I love volunteering and the people,” Kruck said.
As the Chair of the Fiesta Bowl Ambassadors, she has an important job. The Ambassadors enhance the Fiesta Bowl experience though hospitality, leadership and community involvement.
Kruck is not just an ambassador for the Fiesta Bowl, but an ambassador for what it means to give back. She first started volunteering with the Fiesta Bowl back in 2013 when her family moved to Arizona.
They had no family in the area and Kruck said to Steff, “Let’s get involved.” She enjoyed it so much that the following year, she joined the Ambassadors program.
She loves being part of the Fiesta Bowl because it’s football oriented, all the volunteers love it and it gives back to the community.
“When I started, the Fiesta Bowl gave half of the donations they give now,” Kruck said.
In 2019-20, the Fiesta Bowl will give $3 million to nonprofit organizations in Arizona. Many people benefit from Fiesta Bowl Charities, but Kruck’s favorite initiative is the Wishes for Teachers, powered by DriveTime program.
“It gives back to the kids and it gives back to the parents,” Kruck said. “It’s an unbelievable amount the Fiesta Bowl donates back.”
The Fiesta Bowl grants $1 million to the Wishes for Teachers, powered by DriveTime program. Through an application process and random draft, 200 teaches are awarded $5,000 to grant a wish they have for their classrooms.
Sports and volunteering are a family affair for the Krucks. Her husband is a football coach for Arizona Christian University and also volunteers with the Fiesta Bowl. Her daughter, Bridget, is a softball coach and previously volunteered.
Monica Kruck has no plans to stop anytime soon.
Ambassadors play an important role in the Fiesta Bowl organization.
Normal volunteers help at events leading up to the bowl games and at the games. However, Ambassadors volunteer year-round, including at the Ronald McDonald House, reading to kids, wrapping gifts at Christmas time and donating gift cards to kids aging out of foster care. The Fiesta Bowl matches the Ambassador’s gift card donations.
As the wife of a football coach for the past 30 years, Kruck’s favorite sport to watch is naturally football.
With the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl and the Cheez-It® Bowl only a few months away, she is getting excited about the “action packed” events to come.
One of her favorite events is the team arrivals and departures.
With a long carpet coming out of charter planes, players, coaches and staff walk past dozens of fans who are anxious and thrilled for their arrival.
“It’s nice to see how happy all the players are when they arrive,” Kruck said.
Win or lose, all players, coaches and staff appreciate the sendoff hosted by the Ambassadors.
Kruck is back for another busy college football season and reflects on her favorite part of volunteering.
“I love seeing how the community loves the Fiesta Bowl,” Kruck said. “It’s a legend in Arizona.”