Former Catawba basketball players now leading effort to upgrade Goodman Gym

SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - From Catawba College: "Now's the time to step up and and show some leadership," Catawba alumnus Tom Dennard '77 told some of his former basketball teammates and classmates who met on campus in early January for their annual gathering with their former coach, Sam Moir.

These former players and their coach got an update on the progress that Catawba is making in its $60 million comprehensive campaign effort from Catawba President Brien Lewis and learned that they were being tapped to participate in a mini campaign that would raise $1.5 million to improve Abernethy Physical Education Center and its Goodman Gymnasium.

“Think and remember Catawba,” Dennard encouraged. “We can't do it [reach the $1.5 million goal] thinking somebody else is going to make it happen.  We have to be part of the dream team.”

Dennard and wife Mary Jo, a 1975 alumna of Catawba, recently made a $200,000 gift to Catawba, designating $150,000 to upgrade Abernethy Physical Education Center and Goodman Gymnasium and $50,000 targeted to an Endowed Scholarship available for deserving students majoring in Early Childhood Education.  Dennard said $150,000 of the gift he and his wife made, coupled with a $300,000 gift from the Goodman Family, will cover the costs of replacing the maple basketball floor in Goodman Gymnasium. (Goodman Gymnasium is named in honor of 1938 alumnus and longtime former trustee and benefactor, the late Enoch A. Goodman.)

Dennard told his teammates there was much more to be done to upgrade the circa 1970 facility and encouraged them to direct their gifts to a specific upgrade.  “There are multiple dressing rooms down there that look like they looked the day we walked out of them.  We need to bring them up to a certain standard.

“We're way far behind, guys.  It's ridiculous.  This facility is tired and old, but is a great shell,” he concluded.

Specific projects targeted in the mini campaign include the Goodman Gym maple wood floor replacement; Goodman Gym bleacher repair and modification; Goodman Gym seating upgrades; digital graphics wallpaper (outside locker rooms & offices); Goodman Gym scoreboard/shot clock replacement; Goodman Gym press row tables (10); Goodman Gym video board; Basketball team locker room upgrades (2); Volleyball team locker room upgrades; Swimming team locker room upgrades (2); Goodman Gym floor dividers; and Abernethy office space renovation and refurbishment.

Another former Catawba basketball player and longtime employee, Tom Childress '64, came out of his recent retirement to lead the mini campaign that will raise the needed funds to improve Abernethy Physical Education and its Goodman Gymnasium.

“This is a very special area for me, as it is for you,” Childress explained to those gathered for their annual reunion with Coach Moir, who coached Catawba basketball for 34 seasons.

“Think about what you can do to make a difference.  We're a third of the way there and we need the other two-thirds to complete the upgrades,” he said.

Childress shared that Gordon Kirkland Jr. '70 and William “Bill” Haggerty '79, both retired Catawba employees and alumni, also are making time to work on the mini campaign.  He said a steering committee would soon be announced that would call on individuals associated with the basketball program and make one-on-one asks.

Catawba Athletic Director Larry Leckonby also spoke to the group sharing four goals for the Athletics Department:  1) academic – for the 18 athletic teams to have an overall 3.0 GPA (the overall average stood at 2.95 for the fall 2014 semester); 2) business –

“We're underfunded and over-achieving based on the investment we're making in athletics;” 3) competitiveness – “I've challenged our coaches to compete for championships;” and 4) development and fundraising – “There are all kinds of needs, from A-Z, we run the whole gamut, but we're looking forward to working on this building and bringing it up to a respectful level.”

Those gathered with Coach Moir and his former players, in addition to those aforementioned, included Dr. Mike Mayhew '75, Dr. Randy Crumpler '75, Tom Bonebrake '75, Steve Harkins '77, Chuck Farthing '75, Marvin Francis '79, Carlton White '76, Dan Ghent '75, and David Faulkner '75.

Other individuals interested in making a gift to fund upgrades in Abernethy Physical Education Center and Goodman Gymnasium, should contact the Joey Knight, Catawba's Director of Athletic Development, at 704-637-4394 or make a gift online at