TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Thanks to the generosity of two Tuscaloosa families, along with several other donors, The University of Alabama’s wheelchair tennis team and University Recreation will soon benefit from a new facility.
A $500,000 gift commitment, made through Parker Towing Company by Tim and Cathy Parker and Charlie and Alice Haun, along with their families, will help fund the construction of a new tennis facility located on Peter Bryce Boulevard near the Student Recreation Center on the UA campus.
The wheelchair tennis team, part of the University’s Adapted Athletics program housed in the College of Education, has won five national championships since 2012 and currently uses shared space in Stran-Hardin Arena for their practices and equipment storage.
“We are grateful for the support and philanthropy of the Parker and Haun families and the additional donors who are demonstrating their commitment to the success of the Adapted Athletics program, which is already one of the best in the nation,” said UA President Stuart Bell. “By helping to provide the Adapted Athletics tennis team with a state-of-the-art facility that matches their championship status, we are enhancing the use of UREC space, further supporting UA adapted student-athletes and adding value to both programs.”
The Parker-Haun Tennis Facility, which also received an additional $370,000 in gifts from 21 donors, will become the only collegiate tennis facility for adapted student-athletes in the nation, further demonstrating the University’s and the College of Education’s well-established commitment to the education of young people with ambulatory disabilities. The new 5,400-square-foot space will include locker rooms, a trainer’s room, restrooms, water stations and offices for coaching staff as well as amenities for University Recreation student and non-student members that include member services and secured access to the UREC tennis courts.
“People don’t realize adapted athletes need the same facilities, equipment, opportunities and resources that other athletes do,” said Adapted Athletics Executive Director Brent Hardin. “Once people see our athletes and what we’re doing, they want to get involved, and it makes a huge difference.”
The facility will also expand UREC’s and Adapted Athletics’ ability to host tennis clinics for children interested in the sport from across the state, including the Crimson Community Tennis Clinic and the Tuscaloosa Spring Swing Clinic. Further, it will increase awareness of wheelchair tennis by drawing in larger crowds and offering a prime venue for the University to host the Alabama Open, a wheelchair tennis tournament, every fall.
“Sports give students involved a broader experience at UA,” said Charlie Haun, vice chairman and CEO of Parker Towing in Northport. “I’m a big advocate of the University’s recruiting. This exposure is a big benefit, and hopefully, this facility will be a recruiting tool.”
The Parker-Haun Tennis Facility is just one component of the families’ recent $1 million commitment, which will also support the construction of Hewson Hall for the Culverhouse College of Business and the Performing Arts Academic Center for the College of Arts and Sciences.
“The University is a big part of our life,” said Tim Parker Jr., chairman of the board for Parker Towing. “Living in Tuscaloosa, we’re certainly aware of all the good things the University does, not just for the students they educate, but the public service, their involvement in community activities and helping the state of Alabama grow and prosper.”
Construction of the facility will begin immediately. It is expected to be completed in conjunction with the start of the 2021 fall semester.
The University of Alabama, part of The University of Alabama System, is the state’s flagship university. UA shapes a better world through its teaching, research and service. With a global reputation for excellence, UA provides an inclusive, forward-thinking environment and nearly 200 degree programs on a beautiful, student-centered campus. A leader in cutting-edge research, UA advances discovery, creative inquiry and knowledge through more than 30 research centers. As the state’s largest higher education institution, UA drives economic growth in Alabama and beyond.