During a function at Parent’s Weekend in the fall of 2014, the President of Jacksonville University introduced Brigadier General Mike Fleming, (Ret.) to Dick Stockton. General Fleming had just started working as Chief Government, Military and Communications Relations Officer at Jacksonville University. He was intrigued with T3 and what we brought to military bases. He came up with the idea to host an event at the University in the spring, making it the first time T3 would go to a university….we hoped the event would be a success and started planning. It was determined that the event would take place in the Historic Swisher Gym on campus.
You might ask, “What’s so historic about the Historic Swisher Gym?” Well, here is a little history on why this gym seemed like a fitting venue for T3’s Jacksonville University event:
“In 1950 it was determined that with the Korean War affecting enrollment, additional classroom buildings would not be needed. Instead, the Board of Trustees determined it would concentrate on badly needed other facilities, such as a gymnasium. The Carl Swisher Foundation donated $250,000 on October 25, 1952 toward the cost of construction. When work was completed, the university had a 2,000 seat gymnasium, the largest in the county, for a total cost of $310,000. The community at large was also a beneficiary, with ice shows, professional tennis matches, and Gator Bowl basketball tournaments held in the facility. The gymnasium helped fill a void in the community–the lack of an adequate civic and sports arena. The thespians of the university also utilized the facility for their productions, and commencement exercises were held there by the university. Of note is that the structure is located about where it appeared on the original master plan for the campus.” – Historic Campus Architecture Project
In 1972, Jimmy Connors won his first professional tournament in the Historic Swisher Gym. Our very own Dick Stockton was also a participant in that very same tournament. It only seemed fitting that we held the whole event there.
Another first for T3 was the Wounded Warriors clinic. Before any balls were struck that afternoon, the set-up in the gym was christened by Jacksonville’s Provost/Chief Academic Advisor Dr. Wenying Xu when she hit in her stocking feet with T3 pro JoAnne Russell! Now that’s dedication!
The very first Wounded Warrior to participate was John Fernandez, currently a student at University of Florida. John has an amazing story that you can see on our website. He showed off his athletic abilities and tennis talents. John was once a three sport athlete and promised to play more tennis when he returned to school.
The next Wounded Warrior to take part in the clinic was Leonard Goodson, III accompanied by his wife Precious and Lester’s service dog, Duncan. Duncan stole the show and reminded us why a dog is a man’s best friend. Leonard, Precious, Duncan and John joined us afterwards at a reception at the River House, where President Tim Cost welcomed us all.
Jacksonville University is proud to be home to the largest population of student veterans and students of Fallen Heroes, as well as faculty members who are veterans.
Saturday afternoon boasted a line-up of incredible pro talent: Dick Stockton, Brian Gottfried, JoAnne Russell, Steve Contardi, Mario Contardi, Jaime and Dawn de Carvalho, Mark Wirth, Chip Travis and Weller Evans.
At every T3 event, I am always overwhelmed by the generosity of all the volunteers. T3 is fortunate to have worked with some of the most helpful, kind and caring volunteers in the world. We would like to thank the following volunteers: Sheri Taylor, Ric Wallace and Cassandra Jackson.
Without a doubt, without the USO T3 would not even come close to being so successful. The USO has partnered with us from Day One and is beyond generous and supportive. Big thanks to Mike O’Brien and Bob Ross for the delicious meal, the coolest hats and visors and for EVERYTHING. Pink camouflage baseball hats are the most amazing accessories ever.
A special shout out to Clayton Levins, Presidential Fellow at Jacksonville University. There isn’t a question Clayton can’t answer, something he can’t find, or a problem he can’t solve. Thank you for your hard work and for your endless energy. While we wish you all the very best at Princeton Divinity School next year, we can’t imagine how we’ll pull off the event next year without you….please consider putting off grad school….just kidding (sort of!).
They say that a picture tells a thousand words. Trevor Chan, the official T3 photographer has literally taken thousands of pictures at our events. Trevor’s uncanny ability to capture the unique nature of every event is uncanny. Thank you Trevor! Thank you for taking all those incredible pictures. Thank your adorable baby daughter Skye and your generous wife for letting us borrow you for all our events.
I am lucky and so grateful that I am able to have my family come to T3 events. This past weekend I was able to work with and spend time with my parents, Jaime and Dawn, my best friend and sister, Joy and her boys, my nephews, PJ and Matthew. To top it all off, our son Spencer’s baseball team, the JU Dolphins hosted Missouri State and we got to watch him pitch. What a great way to end an incredible weekend.
We are grateful, honored and humbled by the kindness and generosity of spirit shown to us by Jacksonville University and its staff. We are looking forward to next year!