HILLENBRAND MEMORIAL SOFTBALL STADIUM
On a very rainy Valentine’s Day, Arizona Softball officially began their 25th season in Rita with a ribbon cutting event to celebrate the newly renovated stadium. Despite the game being cancelled, hundreds of softball fans watched as UA President Dr. Robert Robbins, Arizona Director of Athletics Dave Heeke and Doby Hillenbrand, who along with her late husband William, funded the original stadium in 1993, joined Arizona Head Softball Coach Mike Candrea and the 2019 Wildcats for a ceremonial ribbon cutting to celebrate the $8 million renovation project’s completion. Updates & enhancements include:
- Renovations to the existing seating areas
- New shade structure for the infield
- New restroom and concession facilities
- New ticket office and souvenir stand
- New premium club seating
- Renovations to the press box
Capital campaign projects such as the Hillenbrand Memorial Softball Stadium renovation wouldn’t be possible without the support of our Wildcat Club members and capital campaign donors. Thank you for helping Arizona Softball remain one of the best programs in the country. To learn more about current capital campaign projects, click here.
INTERVIEW WITH JUDI KESSLER, ASSOCIATE ATHLETICS DIRECTOR, MAJOR GIFTS
Looking back at 35 years with the Wildcats
During your 35 years with Arizona Athletics, what has been your favorite ‘McKale Moment’ during this time?
I would have to say there are two moments involving Men’s Basketball that really stick out. When Arizona advanced to its first ever Final Four in 1988, that was a very exciting time and I was thrilled to be a part of that experience. But, the highlight of my career, and by far the most exciting was in 1997 when Arizona beat three number one seeds to advance to the Final Four and win the National Championship. From Memphis to Birmingham to Indianapolis, it was really amazing and at that time, I handled all seating for post-season. As an administrator and fan it beyond exceeded my expectations.
What brought you to the UofA?
I was born and raised in Tucson and I went out of state to college. After graduating I came back home and I started working at Arizona within the year. I grew up going to sporting events with my family, so the possibility of working in a sports environment was very appealing to me. As a highly ranked junior tennis player in Tucson, sports were always an important part of my life. When I started with Arizona Athletics I was what you would call today a gift processor in the Wildcat Club and my office was not far from where my office is today.
What about this program and this department has kept you here for so long?
At the beginning this was a job for me that later turned into a career. I didn’t know in my earlier years if I would remain here in athletics after I started a family, but it became apparent that as my career evolved it was a place I needed to stay. And then my job turned into a career, and over the last 15 years my career has been in fundraising.
As I have been promoted within the athletics administration and organization, I realized this was a great place to work. My fifteen years in fundraising has given me great satisfaction. I think one of the things that has also kept me here for so long is the family atmosphere that we have had in athletics for so many years.
What has been your favorite gift conversation to be a part of?
Honestly, raising money for all of our capital campaigns has been rewarding. Throughout many different campaigns, I have had the opportunity to work with tremendous and supportive donors. An example that comes to mind are Cole and Jeannie Davis, with whom I have developed an almost 16-year friendship. They are truly wonderful and generous people and it has really been amazing to work with them and watch them grow as University donors and members of our community.
It is hard to pick just one because looking back at my tenure I’ve been a part of so many exciting gift conversations. It is not often that a fundraiser is involved in even one seven figure ask, and I’m fortunate to have been involved with seven over the last 15 years.
What are you most excited about for the future of UA Athletics?
I’m excited for all 21 of our sports—even beyond football and men’s basketball---to continue to be competitive and win championships and NCAA titles like women’s golf did last year.
I think our facilities and the many improvements that we have made over the past couple years will continue to keep us competitive in all of our sports, and I’m looking forward to this continued success.
When you reflect on your time at UA and with the Wildcat Club, what is the main thing that stands out?
I now have the longest tenure of any other athletics department employee, but I’m not the oldest! And years ago I probably never pictured myself still being in the same field, in the same organization, but as it has worked out it has been a great career for me. I’m happy that I’ve been able to be a successful fundraiser, and I look forward to continuing to support student-athlete excellence by raising much-needed philanthropic dollars for Arizona Athletics.
I feel in order to be a successful fundraiser, you really need to have a passion for what you’re doing. If you talk to many of the donors that I have built relationships with, they would say that I have that passion for what I do and for this department. The best part of my job is getting to meet all types of Wildcat fans, listening to their stories, learning more about their passion, and helping to promote Arizona Athletics. You can tell, just from being in my office with all of the memorabilia everywhere, there’s so much tradition here—it’s an exciting story and it’s been a big part of my life for 35 years.
RENEWALS ARE NOW AVAILABLE
Wildcat Club membership (including men’s basketball priority seating) as well as Football season ticket renewals are now available! There are still a few days left in the early renewal period. Renew by February 28 and receive a promo code for 10% off at BearDownShop.com and have your $10 order fee waived.
Waiting till March to renew? Don’t wait too long. Our 30 prizes in 30 days promotions start March 1. Follow Arizona Athletics on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see what exciting prizes are in store.
To make sure you receive your Wildcat Club benefits, including game day parking, be sure to renew your season tickets and membership by the renewal deadline on May 1. For questions about your membership or to pay over the phone, call (520) 621-CLUB or reach out to your Development Officer directly.
FEATURED BENEFITS: CATSYS Award Show
Arizona student-athletes are an incredibly impressive group of young adults. Each year the department celebrates them at our year-end Award Show, the CATSYS. Among the many awards and standouts recognized during the evening, the Arizona Athletics department awards the Ruby and Sapphire Awards, created in 1996, to honor the top male and female student-athletes. These awards are the highest honor bestowed upon current University of Arizona student-athletes. With live musical performances and “celebrity” Arizona letterwinner hosts, the event is always an evening to remember.
Wildcat Club members at the silver level and above may receive two complimentary tickets to attend the evening and help us recognize our amazing student-athletes. Be on the lookout for more information and the official CATSYS invitation, coming soon! To read a recap of last year’s event, click here. To learn more about Wildcat Club benefit levels, click here.
Wildcat Club Appreciation Night @ Women’s Basketball
All Members with Promo Code
Football Spring Game
CATSYS Award Show
Silver level and above