Gridiron give: Alum promotes athletics through commercials

ESPN goes live on a Florida football field. Pads collide. Sweat falls. Eight seconds flash on the clock. A national championship trophy is about to be won. Jeremy Richter, ’94, remembers the thrill of UW-L winning the 1992 NCAA National Championship in football like it was yesterday.

“I can’t tell you how much emotion was flying around on that field the last five minutes,” he says. “It came down to the last play of the game.”

Richter wants UW-L athletes today to feel the same stir of emotions he did during that game. That’s why he donated five, UW-L football-themed commercials to the university. The commercials, valued at $250,000, will remind students of the legacy of the school and help recruit outstanding athletes, he says.

UW-L Director of Collegiate Gifts Pat Stephens calls it a “gift of passion —they put a lot of effort and time into this gift for their alma mater,” he says.

“These surpassed my admittedly high expectations,” says Josh Whitman, UW-L athletic director. “They are better than anything I could have hoped for.”

Richter, who majored in marketing, is president of Richter Studios, a Chicago-based firm that creates commercials, brand films and corporate video productions for clients around the world. The company has worked with celebrities such as Arnold Palmer, Ludacris, Bill Kurtis and Captain James Lovell (Apollo 8/13). Richter and his brother, David Richter, ‘92, who joined Jeremy on the 1989 National Championship runner-up football team, formed Richter Studios in 2003.

The commercials feature UW-L athletes, cheerleaders and marching band performers at the new Veterans Memorial Field Sports Complex. With a new stadium, football coach, and athletic director, UW-L is embarking on a “new era” and it felt like the right time to make such a donation, says Richter.

“When I come back now, the school is even more beautiful,” he explains. “La Crosse is amazing now and I didn’t think we had it bad back then.”

"Jeremy Richter, ’94, stands with a light used in the filming of the commercials. They were shot using the RED One MX and Phantom motion film cameras — standard gear on major Hollywood productions.

"Jeremy Richter, ’94, stands with a light used in the filming of the commercials. They were shot using the RED One MX and Phantom motion film cameras — standard gear on major Hollywood productions.

Looking back, Richter calls himself the “luckiest athlete the school has ever had.” While at UW-L in the late 80s and early 90s, he played on teams that won four national championship victories between track and football. But Richter says his UW-L football experience wasn’t about the trophy at the end. The reward was the hard work and endurance he learned while working toward the goal. He learned he had the internal fortitude he would need as an entrepreneur.

“Anything you’re going to be proud of is going to take a lot of hard work and dedication,” he says. “It’s not like you play one football game and win a national championship.”

Richter was reminded of that at his 10-year UW-L football reunion when former coaches passed out T-shirts with a picture of an eagle and the words “The journey is the reward.”

“It hit me pretty deep,” says Richter. “They were saying, ‘This is not over guys.’ They were reminding us to be great again — to enjoy the journey.”

THE COMMERCIALS
Four, 30-second commercials and an extended three-minute commercial can be viewed here. The spots began to air in La Crosse in August and potentially will run in Madison and Milwaukee later in the fall during the high school state playoffs.
The commercials are shot using the same film cameras used in major Hollywood productions. They feature the voices of UW-L alums Mike Maslowski, Tom Newberry, Bill Schroeder and Rick Schaaf, each of whom enjoyed significant professional football careers.

RICHTER TO SPEAK
Richter will be a speaker at Take an Eagle to Lunch, a UW-L College of Business Administration alumni networking luncheon, at noon, Friday Oct. 14. The event is sponsored by The Silver Eagles, a group of CBA alums who graduated 25 years ago or more.

THE COMPANY
Richter Studios specializes in broadcast commercials, brand films and corporate video productions. To date, the firm’s in-house production crews have shot in 32 states and 12 countries and have championed over 550 motion picture efforts. The company employs 15 people and makes $2 million in annual revenue. Find more online at http://www.richterstudios.com.

ATHLETIC SUCCESS AT UW-L
Richter’s athletic experience at UW-L is not atypical. Many athletes leave the campus with national victories under their belts. The school is one of nine in the country to have won multiple Division III championships in football and numerous players have gone on to participate in the NFL. UW-L’s performance in athletics has landed it in the top 20 of the Directors’ Cup, a national measure of athletic programs’ success based on performance in 18 sports. UW-L’s athletes are also bright. Student athletes posted a combined GPA of 3.21 in 2010-2011, above the 3.19 GPA of the undergraduate student body. Learn more about UW-L Athletics.

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Featured in the Winter 2011-12 Magazine