UMO Dedicates New Track and Field/Lacrosse Complex in Honor of Ray McDonald, Sr.
MOUNT OLIVE- On Wednesday, April 19, at 2 PM, the University of Mount Olive dedicated its new track and field/lacrosse complex in honor of Mount Olive Mayor Ray McDonald, Sr.
Program speakers were Athletics Director Jeff Eisen; Student-Athlete Alexis McNeil; UMO Board Chair Earl Worley; UMO Foundation Board Chair Robert Bizzell; Jimmy Williams with the UMO Advancement team; UMO President Philip P. Kerstetter; Campus Chaplain Carla Williamson; and Mayor Ray McDonald, Sr.
“This is a great day in the life of the University of Mount Olive and the town of Mount Olive,” said Williams. “The two are linked together in the growth and prosperity of all who live in this region of North Carolina. This did not come about due to happenstance. The leadership of both has played an important role in the growth of the University and the town. Each stands to prosper from the success of the other. An important leader in making this possible is our honoree, Ray McDonald, Sr. His commitment to both institutions has helped bring about the partnership that we have today. As a member of the Town Council, County Commissioners, Town Manager and Mayor, Ray has worked tirelessly for the growth of the University of Mount Olive, the Town of Mount Olive, and the entire area. By placing his name on this facility today, we recognize the tremendous commitment and contributions that he has made for over 50 years to this community.”
“When Jimmy Williams and Phil Kerstetter told me they wanted to name this facility after me, I like to have fell out of my chair,” McDonald said. “I told them, ‘you must be out of your mind.’ I really hope that I can live up to this honor. I promise to do my dead-level best to make you proud you put my name on that arch.”
Ground was broken for phase one of the Ray McDonald, Sr. Track and Field/Lacrosse Complex on March 1, 2016. A little over a year later the project has been completed. The complex includes an artificial surface field, which has marking for men’s and women’s lacrosse. The eight lanes of the 400-meter track have a Rekortan surface and are surrounded by a sidewalk and fencing. Field event areas include long jump, triple jump, pole vault, high jump, hammer, discus, and javelin. There are two sections of bleachers, one for general seating with a capacity of 500 and one for the throws areas with a capacity of 60. The complex also features a scoreboard, storage building, and press box with Wi-Fi and public address speaker system.
McNeil, a senior psychology major from Bowie Maryland and member of the women’s track and field team, said, “With this new facility, we can now do even more to prepare and build greater character. We have our own facility right here on campus, no traveling, no threat of injuries. It will help us retain athletes, foster more competitive times, and provide a place to hold successful meets and maybe even conference championships. We are proud to have such a great facility to call our own.”
President Kerstetter stated, “We have heard today about the remarkable accomplishments of this facility’s namesake, Ray McDonald, Sr. We are delighted that his name forever will be etched into the fabric of this institution. We have also heard about what this facility will mean for the University, for the town, for the community, and for this region. This is a project that has come to fruition because of many of you standing here today. You believed us when we said we could make it happen, and we are grateful that you were willing to put your trust and your financial support behind that belief.”
Kerstetter went on to note that 148 donors collectively contributed over $2 million for phase one for the Ray McDonald, Sr. Track & Field/Lacrosse Complex. The gifts came from alumni, businesses and corporations, University faculty, staff and students, foundations, friends, parents, and trustees.
“Isn’t it remarkable to see what we have accomplished together?” he asked. “On behalf of the University of Mount Olive, I say THANK YOU. Thank you for believing in us. Thank you for supporting us. And thank you for being here today to celebrate with us! Always remember that we are your University. Please know that you are welcome here anytime. Today, we are all Trojans, and it truly is a great day to be a Trojan!”
The University of Mount Olive is a private institution rooted in the liberal arts tradition with defining Christian values. The University, sponsored by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists, has locations in Mount Olive, New Bern, Wilmington, Goldsboro, Research Triangle Park, Washington and Jacksonville. For more information, visit www.umo.edu.
Pictured: Ray McDonald, Jr.; Maria H. Holler; Dawn McDonald; Michael McDonald; Will McDonald; Norma Carol McDonald; Ray McDonald, Sr.; UMO President Philip P. Kerstetter; Mary Kerstetter; Robert Bizzell; Jimmy Williams; Alexis McNeil; Jeff Eisen; and Earl Worley.