The University of Redlands celebrated the groundbreaking of the Coach Jim Verdieck Tennis Center August 8, an exciting step toward completing a modernized facility. Featuring 12 lighted courts on a post-tension concrete playing surface, the new center will allow the Bulldog men’s and women’s tennis teams to compete simultaneously while also creating opportunities for the University to host regional and NCAA Championships tournaments on campus.
President Krista Newkirk spoke about the key role that Bulldog Athletics plays within the University community, particularly in recruiting future student-athletes. “Having state-of-the-art facilities like this clearly shows our prospective student-athletes how important we consider these programs in our students’ experiential learning,” said Newkirk, who also reflected on the legacy of the late Coach Jim Verdieck, for whom the center is named. “I am so proud that we are able to name this facility in honor of one of the best collegiate coaches of all time in our nation and a true leader in the history of the University.” Newkirk shared some of the Coach’s many accomplishments, including 15 national championships, 369 wins in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) with only 20 losses, and 24 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics championships in 26 years.
Several members of the Verdieck family were in attendance, including Randy Verdieck ’72, Jim’s youngest son, who also serves on the Tennis Campaign Leadership Committee. This volunteer group of alumni and friends has been instrumental in the project’s fundraising efforts, which are still ongoing. Leadership donors have named courts, on-court spectator viewing areas, and benches, with several naming opportunities still available for the project.
Director of Athletics Jeff Martinez also spoke at the event, where he recognized the historical significance of the Bulldog Tennis site. “There is something very appropriate, even profound, about the fact that we are going to take the asphalt of these very courts, grind it up, and use it for the base of our new facility,” noted Martinez. “The sweat, work, effort, and even tears (both from the excitement of championships and the pain of defeat) that are the tradition of Bulldog Tennis are staying here. All that history remains on this ground.” Martinez also expressed the collective pride and excitement felt by alumni, coaches, and staff about the project.
Before the program, Senator Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh, representing the 23rd Senate District of California, presented a certificate in recognition of the University’s “commitment to the holistic development of student-athletes and promoting success in athletics, in the classroom, and throughout life.”
A leader on the Bulldog Women’s Tennis team, Kendall Bolock ’23 is thrilled to be able to play on the new courts during her senior year. “The new facility allows me to play the sport I love on brand-new tennis courts while competing with other schools,” said Bolock, an English Literature major from Yucaipa, California. “It’s a rebirth for the program because new recruits will be able to enjoy our new facility as well.”