Woody Morcott '60 of Hobe Sound, Fla., has provided a remarkable boost to the Vance Athletic Center Challenge currently underway at Davidson College. His gift of $900,000, when matched by the challenge, adds $1.8 million to the project's funding, making the current fundraising total just over $9 million.
"This generous gift from Mr. Morcott builds momentum for this project and inspires others to consider how they can help," said Jim Murphy, director of athletics at Davidson. "Alumni, parents and friends of the college have shown tremendous support for this important initiative, and we look forward to the day that this building comes to life. The student athlete experience on campus will be greatly enhanced by this facility, and I thank Mr. Morcott for believing in the future of Davidson Athletics."
The total cost to enhance Baker Sports Complex is $15 million. As soon as commitments are made for the cost of the building, construction will begin.
"My wife and I have always tried to stress the connection between scholarship, leadership, citizenship and athletics," said Morcott. "The beauty of Davidson is that there is such a wonderful climate to promote all four of these qualities in the Davidson person. For this reason, we have supported fundraising for science facilities, the student union and athletics, and hopefully helped in the development of a well-rounded, well-educated, Davidson graduate."
The $4 million Vance Athletic Center Challenge was launched in November 2013 by Samuel and Ann Vance Ginn of Hillsborough, Calif., in honor of Ann's father, Harry Vance, Davidson College Class of 1926. Every gift made to the center from the date of the challenge announcement forward is matched dollar-for-dollar until the $4 million goal is met.
"I am continually overwhelmed by the outpouring of support for Davidson Athletics," said Annie Porges, director of the Davidson Athletic Fund. "Members of the Davidson family always put the best interest of the students first, and they understand that gifts are needed to ensure the students' experiences as scholars and athletes remain exceptional."
Morcott has remained involved as a Davidson alumnus, volunteer and benefactor. He currently serves as a member of the Board of Visitors, having served as chair of that body in 1998. He also was an ex officio member of the Board of Trustees, as well as a volunteer for both reunions and class annual fund efforts. In 1995, he was awarded the Distinguished Alumnus Award for his many contributions to the college, his profession and beyond. Morcott retired in 1999 as CEO of Dana Holding Corporation-formerly Dana Corp.-after a successful 37-year career with the company.
Davidson's vibrant athletics community and unwavering commitment to support 21 Division I athletic programs presents immediate cause for an athletic center of this nature. The practice facility inside the athletic center will provide two courts for men's and women's basketball and volleyball. Additionally, coaches' offices, administrative space, locker rooms, team rooms and film rooms for men's and women's basketball will be located in the new athletic center.
The college's flourishing dance program and engaged club and intramural sports programs add to the list of regular consumers of currently overcrowded spaces. The athletic center will have a direct impact on the Davidson student experience with increased access to practice and training facilities. This expansion, in turn, will alleviate scheduling burdens as it relates to space in the Baker Sports Complex, resulting in a more balanced approach to athletics and academics.
Vance was a first-generation college student from Huntersville, N.C., and was the ultimate athlete, participating at the varsity level in football, baseball, wrestling and track/field, and earning nine varsity letters. He still holds the record for most letters earned by a student athlete at Davidson. Additionally, his peers voted him the winner of the Norris Trophy, which recognized him as the Outstanding College Athlete of the Year.
Following graduation, Vance was commissioned as a 1st Lieutenant in the U.S. Marines and later went on to a lengthy and successful career with Southern Bell. He enjoyed a long and happy marriage to Willie Grimsley Vance before he passed away in 1985. They raised two daughters, Ann and Lee, who shared their father's love of sports. College archives refer to Vance as "one of the leading lights in the sport life of the campus, one of the most feared batters in the college ranks, the star of nearly every football contest his senior year, and easily the best Guard in North Carolina and excellent All-Southern [Conference] material."
More information about the project and the challenge is available here. www.davidson.edu/athletic-center