Recent gifts from devoted William & Mary alumni totaling $3 million are helping the university take a momentous leap forward as the All In campaign for W&M Athletics nears its finish line at the end of 2023.
As of Dec. 1, the campaign had raised just over $50 million, with less than $5 million remaining to reach the $55-million goal. The priorities for All In include transforming athletics facilities with the reimagined W&M Athletics Complex, strengthening the athletics program’s financial foundation and building long-term stability.
The new campaign total includes several major commitments. A gift from Dr. Hallett H. Mathews HON ’02 and Nancy Wonnell Mathews ’76 to the Athletics Director’s Strategic Initiatives Fund will allow Director of Athletics Brian D. Mann to channel support to where it is most needed. A second gift, from Rob W. Estes ’74, P ’06 and Jean Berger Estes ’75, P ’06, will support planned renovations to Kaplan Arena as part of the new Athletics Complex, and the loading dock will be named in their honor. Tracy Leinbach ’81, who played golf at William & Mary, will increase her existing women’s athletics scholarship and provide operational support for the women’s golf program. A fourth gift, from an alumna and W&M Foundation trustee who wishes to remain anonymous, was made in Mann’s honor to the Athletics Director’s Strategic Initiatives Fund.
“William & Mary Athletics is extremely fortunate to be supported by such committed members of the Tribe as these alumni,” Mann said. “We are grateful to them for stepping in to help fill our most critical needs and provide flexibility to pursue strategic opportunities.”
For Hal and Nancy Mathews, the desire to support W&M Athletics stems from bonds formed over nearly four decades. They began attending William & Mary football games as a young married couple living in Richmond, where Hal attended medical school and Nancy was employed as a social worker. One of the early connections they made to W&M Athletics was Bobby Dwyer M.Ed. ’94, then the lead fundraiser, who retired in 2019 as senior associate athletics director.
“He would walk through the parking lots and meet people,” Nancy recalled. “I was very impressed that he would remember who we were and where we were from. I give him credit for us being pulled into William & Mary and the population of student athletes.”
In 1986, the couple began purchasing season tickets each fall for William & Mary football games, and over the years they developed relationships with fellow Tribe fans and deepened their connections to the university. After moving to Williamsburg in 1999, they joined a group of alumni basketball enthusiasts started by Jane Thompson Kaplan ’56, P ’92, G ’17, G ’24 and the late Jim Kaplan ’57, P ’92, G ’17, G ’24.
Hal and Nancy have traveled occasionally with the football team to away games. Recognized as both a pioneer of minimally invasive spine surgery and a visionary business executive in the medical technology industry, Hal also has provided career advice to some of the athletes.
“Football players would sometimes text us before games and ask if we could meet with them,” he said. “It’s been fun to keep the relationships going.”
Hal has served on the William & Mary Foundation and W&M Business School Foundation boards. Nancy has held numerous volunteer leadership positions over the years, including her current role as secretary of the W&M Athletic Foundation board. She has also been a W&M Alumni Association board member, has served on the annual Lord Botetourt Auction and class reunion gift committees and the For the Bold campaign steering committee. Along with Hal, she was on the National Campaign Committee for the university’s previous capital campaign. Nancy received the Alumni Medallion, the highest and most prestigious award given by the William & Mary Alumni Association, in 2013.
Their connection to athletics has increased their awareness of what it takes for William & Mary to keep all 23 of the university’s NCAA Division I varsity teams thriving.
“We’re fortunate to be able to pay it forward and make sure others can have the kind of experience we’ve had over the past few decades,” Hal said.
Among their previous gifts, Hal and Nancy have provided funds for a new scoreboard in Zable Stadium and the Mathews Family Athletic Scholarship Endowment to support academically distinguished varsity athletes, with a preference for members of the football team. The couple said they see the improvements already in place at Kaplan Arena as a sign of the university’s commitment to the future of W&M Athletics.
William & Mary broke ground in spring 2022 on the new W&M Athletics Complex that will encompass a renovated Kaplan Arena, the new Mackesy Sports Performance Center adjacent to the arena, the Mackesy Tennis Center, Busch Field and the Tribe Field Hockey Center. Already completed in the first phase of the complex are refurbished locker rooms in Kaplan, along with a new videoboard, lighting and audio system for the playing area.
Like the Mathewses, Rob and Jean Estes have been engaged members of the William & Mary family, generous supporters of W&M Athletics and frequent game attendees. Rob is co-chair of the 50th reunion committee for the Class of 1974 and has served as a W&M Business School Foundation board member. Both he and Jean were on the For the Bold campaign steering committee and co-chairs of the Richmond regional campaign committee. Jean is also a current W&M Alumni Association board member and has served on the W&M Foundation board, the Society of 1918 Steering Committee and the Women & Philanthropy Leadership Circle.
In 2019, the Raymond A. Mason School of Business presented Rob with the TC and Elizabeth Clarke Medallion, given to an individual whose distinguished career and contributions to business represent the highest standards of professionalism and integrity.
As CEO and board chair of Estes Express Lines, America’s largest privately owned freight transportation carrier, Rob said it’s natural for him to think about logistics — and for the loading dock to bear the Estes name.
“It may not be the most glamorous section of the new W&M Athletics Complex, but to provide the best experience for athletes and fans, you need to be able to move equipment and supplies in and out smoothly,” he said. “We are proud to support this outstanding project.”
Leinbach, a former executive vice president and chief financial officer at Ryder System Inc. and former W&M Foundation board member, said her gift was motivated by the importance of William & Mary athletics in her own experience and her desire to give back so that new generations of students will have the resources they need to excel in golf, academics and their life after W&M.
The anonymous alumna, who also made a generous challenge gift in support of women’s athletics scholarships in 2020, sees a connection between a vibrant athletics program and the overall excellence of the university.
“I wanted to express support for Brian Mann’s exceptional leadership of William & Mary Athletics and do my part to help bring the All In campaign to a successful conclusion,” she said of her recent gift.
By providing top-quality spaces for athletes to compete, train and study, the reimagined W&M Athletics Complex is expected to bring greater visibility of the university as an attractive destination for student-athletes and create a more vibrant environment for fans.
The 36,000-square-foot Sports Performance Center will encompass strength and conditioning areas, study spaces, a sports medicine area and a full-size practice court. In addition, the renovated Mackesy Tennis Center at the Millie West Courts will include all new courts, elevated seating platforms, new bleachers along Brooks Street and the installation of a scoreboard, among other enhancements. Phase two of the project will improve Kaplan Arena’s seating and fan amenities, and expand and renovate the lobby and building facade.
Along with the overall fundraising goal, William & Mary's All In campaign is focused on engaging and building community and increasing annual giving to all of the university’s varsity teams.