Alumni Group ‘The Greys’ Makes $2M Gift to Support Indoor Performance Center
Massachusetts Athletics is pleased to announce cross country and track and field alumni John Legere, Glenn Lyle, Mike Morris, Lou Panaccione, Michael Quinn, Matt Wolff and Tom Wolff have combined to make a $2 million gift to support the Indoor Performance Center Project.
Collectively referred to as “The Greys,” this group of distance runners competed from 1977-79 on the nationally ranked University of Massachusetts men's cross country teams. They practiced in university-issued grey t-shirts and shorts. In that simple grey outfit, they trained hard, overachieved as a team and most importantly forged bonds of friendship that endure 45 years later.
As the “The Greys” have joked, ironically, most are now grey-haired. Each member of the alumni group shared their perspective on why the UMass programs were, and remain, an important part of their lives.
John Legere '80“I am pleased to join my lifelong friends in supporting UMass distance running in hopes that future team members may enjoy the same benefits that we obtained and enjoy to this day.”
Glenn Lyle '80“I was a walk on to the cross country team in 1976. I was somewhat starstruck to be able to run with future All-Americans and All-New England runners. Working hard to compete to be a member of a nationally ranked team helped me stay focused on my studies, which eventually led me to medical school. I was not a star but felt I contributed in a small part to a great team. The friends I made then have remained among my best friends to this day. I want current and future UMass runners to experience the same thing I did. Not only to compete in college but to be part of nationally ranked team.”
Mike Morris '80“My time at UMass was one of the treasures in my life. The unbreakable bonds formed, long lasting friendships and quality academics have been a foundation to build my life moving forward. I hope this gift allows future cross country and track and field athletes to enjoy their time at UMass, build strong relationships and prosper the way my teammates and I have.”
Lou Panaccione '79“My years at UMass produced an educational foundation that also included lifelong friends and a work ethic that has translated into a satisfying business career. I want to see future cross country and track and field athletes get the same satisfaction and success from their UMass experience.”
Michael Quinn '79“UMass became much more than the educational and athletic experience I had expected going into it in 1975. The education prepared me for opportunities that came my way, which led to a very successful professional career. The athletics introduced me to my teammates, many who would become my closest lifelong friends. This contribution to revitalize ‘The Cage’ is our way of helping to create a space where the cross country and track and field teams can come together to train.”
Matt Wolff '79
“Growing up in Springfield my attachment to the University began long before attending UMass. I feel fortunate to have had the experience of running cross country and track and it is a privilege to be in a position to be able to give back to the University and its distance running program.”
Tom Wolff '78“I cherish the memories from my four years at UMass and the friendship bonds formed then with my teammates that have endured for going on 50 years. UMass is a special place, and my gift is an investment in the future success of UMass cross country and track and field, and a bridge from the legacy of excellence created by Ken O’Brien and Julie LaFreniere to the present-day men's and women's programs.”
The renovated two-level facility will be managed exclusively by the athletics department and will feature a grand lobby and entrance area that will honor the history of the programs and offer an inviting area for student-athletes, alumni/ae and recruits. The lower practice level will be covered with a track-specific surface and offer space for jumping and throwing events, along with a sprint straight-away.
“This is a testament to the life-long bonds that are formed when student-athletes train, compete and strive for a common purpose together,” said Director of Athletics Ryan Bamford. “They have stayed connected with each other and through their tremendous engagement with UMass, including multiple philanthropic investments, have helped move our cross country and track and field programs forward. This group commitment is the ultimate indicator of how much UMass positively impacted their lives.”
The second level will feature a practice track along with space for non-impact training. Currently located within the performance center are recently renovated coaches' offices, team locker rooms and the Peter '78 and Denise '79 Bloom Academic Lounge. Adjacent to the lower level of the performance center is a training pool that will continue to provide additional workout space.
“Since I've started at UMass, this group of alumni has been supportive of the distance programs,” said Tim Ritchie, head men's cross country coach. “I want to thank them for this commitment to the indoor performance center. The Greys represent the ideals of our program: athletic success, meaningful relationships, and pride in their experience at UMass which has led to a lifelong connection with the team. Their willingness to make this project a reality is significant and will shape the trajectory of UMass Track and Field and Cross Country moving forward.”
Of the $8 million project cost, $5 million will come through private philanthropy, and this group gift is part of the $4.3 million that has been raised to date. The athletic department has established a target of June 30, to get the remaining funds secured and move the project forward.