LEE COUNTY, Fla. – After inducting the 2013 Dunk City team back in November the inaugural Florida Gulf Coast University Athletics Hall of Fame class is now complete.
When this idea came forward the five individuals inducted Friday evening very well could be the easiest choices in its entire history.
“As we go further into these years of picking the teams it is going to be really hard,” FGCU Director of Athletics Ken Kavanagh said. “There wasn’t much discussion on this one it was like okay, yep, yep, yep, we are done.”
Look around and it is impossible to not notice the imprint they left on not only FGCU but all of Southwest Florida.
“They are iconic individuals at FGCU,” Kavanagh said.
We are talking about three individuals Ben Hill Griffin III, Duane Swanson Sr., and Doctor Bill Merwin that helped build this athletic program and university.
Ben Hill Griffin III is considered the father of Florida Gulf Coast after his generous philanthropy and land donation that set the foundation for the entire university.
Dr. Bill Merwin would then be considered the father of FGCU Athletics, and it was his vision and leadership that took FGCU to the division one ranks.
Take one look around the athletic facilities on the FGCU campus, and you will quickly see Duane Swanson Sr.’s name. He was critical in making the baseball and softball complex, the soccer complex and the outdoor sports complex a reality through his vision and contributions to athletics.
“I watched this road being built out here Ben Hill Griffin Parkway like I watched it being built and now being inducted into the Hall of Fame with him and the other amazing people it is just crazy,” FGCU alumna and USA Olympian Brooke Youngquist Sweat said.
“They are the guys that paved the way you know this was a dirt road and they are the ones that paved it for us to go down,” FGCU Alumnus and Boston Red Sox Pitcher Chris Sale said. “I wish I held up to the other people that were being inducted tonight because they really set the tone for us.”
It wouldn’t be a complete class without adding arguably two of the most influential athletes in FGCU history in Chris Sale and Brooke Youngquist Sweat that took the FGCU brand to incredible heights in the Olympics and the World Series.
“I am so proud to represent FGCU represent the blue and green and it is something but I just take a lot of pride in,” Youngquist Sweat said.
“This place has done more for me than I will ever be able to give back a lot of the most important things in my life have started here, and I just cannot say enough about this place and how appreciative I am of this university and the people here,” Sale said.
There will be many more hall of fame classes in FGCUs history, but there will only ever be one inaugural class and this one has set a high standard moving forward.
“Those three with the two individuals from an athletic standpoint they are the benchmark for everybody else to come,” Kavanagh said.
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