Spring 2013 Event Recap

April 9, 2013

Ken Byers Tennis complex

On January 17th, GTAA welcomed letterwinners to the new Ken Byers Tennis Complex. Coaches, letterwinners, and athletic staff attended the opening of the grand new addition to campus. This was followed by a season-opening victory in the new tennis center by the women’s tennis team with a win over Syracuse.

“We’re honored to be opening the season in the brand new Ken Byers Tennis Complex,” said Tech Head Coach and GT Letterwinner Kenny Thorne (Tennis, 1989) before the opening match. “We 

goal.” During his speech Thorne also recognized GT Letterwinners that contributed to the project, including Sandra and Allen Ecker (Football, 1957), the Bill Moore (Tennis, 1938) family, Art Brannen (Basketball, 1973), Meade Sutterfield (Football, 1972). are very thankful to Ken and Trish Byers who have been friends of the program for many years. It is humbling as well as inspiring to be moving into such an incredible facility…there will be a great energy. Our job is to make our alumni proud of our program and to entertain them. Most people I know are proud of winning programs, so that is our

Former Yellow Jacket standout Kristi Miller North (Women’s Tennis, 2008, featured right) came out to support her program. “The new facility represents the hard work and great success the tennis programs have had in the last 10 years. It will be so important for recruiting great players to continue that tradition. As a former player, I’m so proud of the new facility — I only wish that I still had eligibility!”

The complex will provide not only top of the line facilities for our tennis teams, but also complete the major athletic overhauls to campus over the past four years, which include the indoor practice facility, the on-campus softball field, and the McCamish Pavilion. These facility improvements have earned us a top slot in college athletic facilities, and it’s not hard to see why with the pictures located in the photo galleries here.

Endowment Dinner

The 2013 Annual GTAA Endowment Dinner was held February 11th at the GT Hotel and Conference Center. Guests, many of whom included GT Letterwinners and current student-athletes, were treated to a banquet and speeches from new Director of Athletics Mike Bobinski, women’s basketball Head Coach MaChelle Joseph, GT Alum and Endowment donor Shawn Fowler, current Yellow Jacket football player Orwin Smith, junior volleyball player Ivona Kolak, and GT Letterwinner Uwezu McReynolds (Track & Field, 1993, pictured right).

This annual event provided an opportunity for the Georgia Tech athletics family to get together, mixing student athletes and staff with donors, many of whom included letterwinners. These generous benefactors provide countless opportunities to young people who may not otherwise have a chance to attend this prestigious Institute and compete at the highest level of intercollegiate athletics, as echoed in the speeches by Kolak and Smith.

Kolak enlightened the audience of 400 about her journey from her childhood in a war-torn Croatia, to arriving in Atlanta not knowing English, and now as a junior at an elite institution standing in front of the crowd giving a speech. For Kolak, a scholarship meant an opportunity to both play the sport she loves and receive a first-rate education, something that without the scholarship would not have been possible to do together.

Smith highlighted why he chose Tech and what it means to him. “The main reason I chose GT was because I knew that one day, these knees, elbows, and back would all stiffen up, and I wouldn’t be able to play football anymore. I needed a school with a strong support system, rich tradition, and education…I’d like to thank you all, and foremost the donors, for providing me with this scholarship. You just don’t understand how fortunate I am to be able to go to a school like Georgia Tech.” Smith also thanked the endowment donors on behalf of the other student athletes, citing “we all are not always from families who are able to afford this type of education.” The athletic scholarship endowments help make this possible. Smith will be graduating from Tech May 2013.

McReynolds was another keynote speaker, highlighting the trials as well as the successes from his career at Tech. Although he was able to continue with a professional running career immediately after college, Uwezu credits his Tech education to his career after track. McReynolds was married to the late GT All-American runner Janeen Jones McReynolds (Track & Field, 1995), who coached for Georgia Tech Track & Field. Today, McReynolds raises money for Track & Field scholarship in Janeen’s honor with the annual Janeen’s Run 5K, held on Tech’s campus this year on March 30th.

View pictures of the 2013 Endowment Dinner in the photo gallery.

About Endowments and the GTLWC

One of the largest operational expenses of the Athletic Association is annual scholarship costs. GT has seventeen intercollegiate sports programs and more than 300 student-athletes. With out-of-state costs of $41,842 per athlete and in-state costs of $22,538 per athlete, the Athletic Association is only able to cover one-third of the scholarship costs through endowed scholarships. The remainder of the scholarship costs must come from other areas on an annual basis.

Endowing athletic scholarships enhances Tech’s ability to recruit the nation’s most outstanding student-athletes, which is vital to building and sustaining highly competitive teams across all men’s and women’s sports. The benefits of creating an endowment are immediate and most directly impact the lives of the Georgia Tech student-athletes named as the recipient(s). In addition, endowment gifts last a lifetime once established.

The GTLWC continues its effort to support current GT athletes by funding a full athletic scholarship. Many letterwinners have donated to this cause, and proceeds from GTLWC events, such as the fall golf tournament, go to support this effort. If you would like to contribute to the GTLWC endowment, please contact Lucius Sanford, Executive Director at 404-894-8865 (lsanford@athletics.gatech.edu) or Katie Hodges at 404-894-5414 (khodges@athletics.gatech.edu).

To learn more about athletic scholarship endowments through the Alexander-Tharpe Fund, click here.

Hyder Room

The wrapping of basketball season also closed the first edition of the Hyder Room, a location in McCamish Pavilion reserved for basketball letterwinners to meet and relax before and during basketball games. Light refreshments are provided to basketball letterwinners and their families in the Hyder Room each game (pictured right at GT Basketball game in McCamish Pavilion, Ishmael Muhammed; Men’s Basketball, 2006).  

Georgia Sports Hall of Fame

Former Georgia Tech linebacker Reggie Wilkes (Football, 1978; featured below, second from left) was inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame on February 23, 2013 among six other players, coaches and broadcasters from the Peach State. The seven total honorees were chosen from a pool of 208 candidates.

The Atlanta native was a three-year starter at outside linebacker for the Yellow Jackets from 1975-77. He was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1978, where he was a member of the 1980 NFC Championship team and played in Super Bowl XV.

Other inductees included:

  • Buck Belue (Georgia national champion quarterback)
  • Skip Caray (Late Braves broadcaster)
  • Horace Grant (Four-time NBA champion)
  • J.B. Hawkins (High school basketball coach)
  • Davis Love III (20-time PGA Tour winner)
  • Heather Stepp McCormick (Georgia two-time NCAA gymnastics champion)

Janeen’s Run

The 4th annual Janeen’s run was held Saturday March 30th on Tech’s campus. 190 participants took off for the 5K run from the courtyard of the Petit Biotechnology building during the sunny spring morning. The annual family-friendly event, coordinated by Uwezu McReynolds (Track & Field, 1993), benefits the Janeen Jones McReynolds (Track & Field, 1995) Scholarship Endowment Fund, under the Alexander Tharpe Fund umbrella. Later in the day, participants and their families supported the Yellow Jackets at Georgia Tech’s Griffin Track for the Yellow Jacket Invitational track meet.

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