Sun Devil Club: Enhance, Engage, Educate

Donor Spotlight: Randy Raymond

 

Randy has been a longtime supporter of Sun Devil Athletics and the Sun Devil Softball program. His support has assisted in many areas including student-athlete scholarships and team financial needs. We caught up with Randy and asked him a few questions about why he supports Sun Devil Athletics:

In what ways are you connected to ASU? I visited campus on a Junior High School field trip in 1974 and from that day on I wanted to attend ASU.  Undergraduate school at ASU didn’t materialize for me but I was able to attend graduate school at ASU. I received my MBA in 1992 after attending class as a full-time student 1990-1992. I completely immersed myself in the college experience in those two years as a graduate student.

What does it mean to you to be a Sun Devil and be a part of the Sun Devil Family? This is an interesting question to answer.  It’s an emotional answer from a normally very logical Spock-like person. Being a part of the Sun Devil Family feels like I’ve never left school and that I am still in that immersion of the college experience from graduate school. I’m back on campus a lot for games. Being back on campus feels like home. Doing things with the softball team feels like family. Talking with the other fans in my section feels like old familiar friends since we’ve all been sitting together for at least 10 years. I’ll still have the occasional beers and wings at the Vine which is a throw-back experience to grad school.

I’ll see someone wearing ASU attire when I’m traveling and I’ll show the fork hand symbol and say “Go Devils!” and I’ll usually get a positive reaction. I went to a AA Minor League Baseball game back in 2015 in San Antonio and gave Andrew Aplin the fork hand gesture and shouted “GO DEVILS!” as he came off the field into the visitor’s dugout. It was funny watching Andrew take a few seconds to process what just happened and that someone recognized him, knew his name, and that he played at ASU. You see ASU people all over the country and the world.

Why do you think it is important to support student-athletes and Sun Devil Athletics? This answer is complicated. Financial support can literally mean the difference between having a program and not having a program. The effort to save Sun Devil Swimming after the program was cut about a decade ago is what got me donating money in larger amounts. I wasn’t able to donate as much as many other people, but the experience helped me loosen the purse strings.

The individual student-athlete level answer is different than the program level answer. I understand the student-athlete’s investment of time and energy to get where they are today. That 22-year old athlete has probably been playing their sport for 16 years. They have thousands of hours of practice and training. They have 100’s of thousands of repetitions to perfect technique. They make awe-inspiring plays in the field during games as a result of those repetitions and training hours.

The roar of the crowd during a game helps to make all of those hours and repetitions pay off. I’ve got respect and admiration for their lifetime of hard work and sacrifice. I’m just hoping that being in the seats and donating a few dollars makes performing at a higher level in college easier for these kids.

Why do you support Sun Devil Softball? What motivates you to support Sun Devil Softball? I had been watching the WCWS on TV since maybe 1998 or 1999 and looked forward to the excitement and suspense of the games each year in late May or early June. When the Sun Devils won the national championship in 2008 I thought what kind of fool I was for not having season tickets to softball! I watch the games on TV but why wasn’t I in the stadium? I got season tickets for 2009.

Motivation to support softball is talking with the players. I love soaking in the energy, positive attitudes, never-give-up and competitive mindset. Talking with the players also reminds me that they are real people as opposed to an abstract concept that you may see on TV and never get to see in person. As real people the players need support to perform at a higher level. I can see in softball specifically the hard work and deliberate effort to play at a higher level among the players and I’m happy to contribute in any way I can.

Describe the most exciting game you have attended: The most exciting game was really several games – the 2011 Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City. Being there when your team wins the National Championship is the pinnacle of excitement.  And…let’s face it, does it get any better than winning the National Championship? I’ve been to the WCWS three times now and I am planning many more trips to watch the Sun Devils.

Describe the play in a softball game that you remember most: This answer goes directly to seeing the lifetime of hard work these girls have put into softball. The specific play was in 2016 at the Baton Rouge Regional in a very tight game against LSU.

Abby Spiel scored a run sliding into home plate late in the game. The home plate umpire ruled that Abby did not touch the plate and was tagged by the catcher to record an out instead of a run. Instant replay on ESPN clearly showed that Abby did touch the plate and that she was safe. The umpire had made a grievous error that changed the dynamics and outcome of the game.

Abby didn’t let the horrific umpire error affect her play. Bottom of the same inning Abby fielded a ball in left field and made a perfect throw to the plate for an outfield assisted out.

Having spent time talking with Abby at Diamond Devils events in the previous years I fully appreciated the mental toughness and athletic ability that throw to home plate took. Shake off the worst call ever by an umpire and still make a laser throw to the plate from the outfield to get an out in a crucial, tight game with zero margin for error. That’s mental toughness at its finest and why I remember that play to this day.

If you could have dinner with any Sun Devil student-athlete/coach/staff member from the past or present, who would it be and why? I’ve been doing the booster thing a long time. I started attending Sun Devil Club events around 1993. I attended the football lunches in downtown Phoenix during “Voice of the ASU Sun Devils” Tim Healey’s first or second year as the Voice back in the late 90’s. I’ve met Rick Monday, Bob Horner, and Spencer Torkelson all three of whom were a #1 pick in the Major League Baseball draft. I’ve had several great conversations with Frank Kush at booster events in years gone by. 

As a grad student in Oct. 1990 playing a round of golf at Karsten, I teed off one hole with Phil Mickelson.  I’m not a good golfer and a foursome containing the 1990 individual National Champion from the defending National Champion ASU Golf Team had caught up to me and politely asked to play through.  I’m left-handed and thought that left-handed golfer with the team could hit the ball pretty well.

Coach Ford’s recent activities have brought the big names from the softball past back to campus and I’ve been able to meet and chat with those legends. Doing booster things with football, baseball, and softball for what is approaching 30 years has allowed me to “shake the hand of history” on pretty much a regular basis. And I am just a regular normal person.

I’d like to meet Ladimir Kwiatkowski. Ladimir played baseball for the Arizona State Teacher's College Bulldogs in 1951-52. Arizona State Teacher’s College became ASU in 1958. Ladimir had season tickets to ASU Baseball for a long time from what I understand hearing from others. You have to be somewhat old and have grown up in Arizona to know that Ladimir Kwiatkowski was Ladmo from the Wallace and Ladmo Show that ran from 1954-1989 on KPHO Channel 5. One person I knew in grad school won a Ladmo Bag back in the 1970’s when she was in the studio audience. Every kid wanted to be on the show and win a Ladmo Bag. Sadly, Ladmo passed away in 1994.

The Sun Devil Club would like to thank Randy for his continued support of Sun Devil Athletics. For more information on ways to get involved with the Sun Devil Club, please contact us by email at sundevilclub@asu.com or by phone at (480) 727-7700.

 

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