Basketball Practice Facility Campaign Announced

UABSPORTS.COM ECU Educational Foundation announces "Step Up To The Highest Level Campaign"
ECU Educational Foundation announces "Step Up To The Highest Level Campaign"

Nov. 10, 2010

GREENVILLE, N.C. - The East Carolina University Educational Foundation publicly announced the launch of a $15 million capital campaign initiative last week that will provide private funding for a practice facility for the Pirate men and women's basketball teams.

With the silent phase of the campaign beginning in March, 2010, a total of $8.4 million has already been committed to this initiative as of Nov. 6. Leading the early charge have been 32 Leadership gift donors who have committed amounts ranging from $100,000 to $1 million in support of the proposed practice facility.

Through the "Step Up To The Highest Level Campaign," East Carolina Athletics will soon be in a position to have its basketball programs step up to the line in a new state-of-the-art practice facility.

As approved by East Carolina University's Board of Trustees, the facility will be built to the northeast side of Minges Coliseum to provide identities for both basketball programs. In addition to practice courts, coaches' office suites, locker rooms and team meeting rooms, the new facility will also house and showcase the ECU Athletics Hall of Fame and athletics memorabilia for Pirate fans to enjoy.

"The tremendous leadership of the Steering Committee of the `Step Up To The Highest Level Campaign' is turning a dream for a much-needed basketball practice facility into a reality," East Carolina Director of Athletics Terry Holland said. "The Walter L. Williams Family, in partnership with Trade Wilco and Wilco Hess, have once again provided phenomenal support and leadership to a capital campaign initiative in support of Pirate Athletics."

The early success of the campaign has been credited to the leadership of a steering committee co-chaired by Henry G. Williamson of Advance, N.C., and Walter L. Williams of Greenville.

Of the $8.4 million the campaign has received to date in commitments, $7.5 million has come from 32 Leadership commitments totaling $7.5 million. Of that amount, $2.3 million has been committed by the TradeWilco and WilcoHess convenience store chain, led by a $1 million commitment from Walter and Marie Williams; $100,000 each from Walter and Marie Williams' son and daughter-in-law David and Terry Williams, and son-in-law and daughter Edwin and Ann Clark; $100,000 from nephew and company president Steve Williams of Winston-Salem; and $1 million from John H. Hess of New York, N.Y., given in honor of Walter L. Williams.

"It's all up to each of us as to the realization of success we wish for East Carolina University Athletics," Walter Williams said. "We have been very blessed as a family and as a company over the years, and as a result, we believe that it is our duty and privilege to give back and help make a difference.

"I am personally convinced that if we are going to have the success we desire for our men and women's basketball programs and, in turn, provide a balanced athletics program, then Pirate Athletics must have a basketball practice facility for Jeff Lebo and Heather Macy to recruit potential athletes and to use to enhance the skill sets of their players," he added. "This is now the third capital campaign on behalf of Pirate Athletics that I've had the honor to co-chair, and I am convinced that even in a bad economy, the Pirate Nation will again step up to make this campaign a great success."

Walter Williams, his son David and son-in-law Edwin Clark started Trade Oil Company with two Trade Mart convenience store locations in 1984. Over the next twenty years, the company grew to 102 stores, which were primarily located in eastern North Carolina. In 2005, the company merged with Wilco Hess, a company whose forerunner Wilco was started by Walter's brother Tab a number of years before Trade Oil's beginning. Today, the combined companies operate 379 convenience stores under the Trade Wilco and Wilco Hess names in seven states.

"Our support of East Carolina University and Pirate Athletics is founded on the belief of the importance of the University to the overall success of eastern North Carolina," Steve Williams said. "Our company, Trade Wilco and Wilco Hess, has a significant presence in the eastern region of the state and we realize, as does my uncle Walter and his family, how important it is to support the University. We also recognize and appreciate the loyalty the ECU Family has given to our company for many years, for which we are truly grateful."

When this proposed facility is completed, along with the recent endzone expansion of Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, construction of a new softball stadium and ongoing work to provide new venues for soccer, track and field and a building to house the department's Olympic sports, East Carolina University will have competitive facilities for its student-athletes, coaches and fans to enjoy."

"Our student-athletes are the direct beneficiaries of these gifts," Holland added. However, the whole community will benefit greatly as our basketball programs compete for national recognition under Coaches Jeff Lebo and Heather Macy. In light of this, I'm asking members of the Pirate Nation to step forward with their support of the `Step Up To The Highest Level Campaign' as we enter the public phase of this important initiative."