Jim and Nell Hawkins Indoor Tennis Center dedicated during inaugural match
For years, when inclement weather struck during a Baylor tennis match, the teams had to pack up and drive an hour and a half north to use an indoor facility in Ennis, Texas. The lack of nearby indoor courts also prevented Baylor from hosting NCAA championship final rounds.
Thanks to the generosity of Jim, BBA '58, and Nell Hawkins and others, those problems are now in the past. The new Hawkins Indoor Tennis Center was dedicated Jan. 25 in front of 700-plus fans during the midpoint of the facility's first match, a 7-0 win for head coach Matt Knoll's men's tennis team.
"Tonight, Jim and Nell, we say 'Thank you,'" Baylor University President Ken Starr said. "We are grateful for the generosity of spirit that has guided you to make this possible. This is a great program, and now it will be even greater."
The Hawkins' lead gift helped turn the dream of an indoor tennis center into a reality. The 34,000-square-foot, $7 million venue includes six parallel indoor tennis courts with spectator seating, allowing the men's and women's tennis teams to practice and play year-round, regardless of adverse weather conditions.
Notable features of the facility were made possible by the generosity of Baylor donors. The Center's Court Number One was provided by Claude and Becky Lindsey, and the lobby was supported by the Lanning family in honor of Stacy Lanning Lessman, BBA '93, Lori Lanning Rogers, BBA '97, and Kristi Lanning Blauser, BBA '00.
"This facility turned out even better than we hoped," said Ian McCaw, Baylor University Director of Athletics. "It's another big step for Baylor tennis and the Baylor athletic program. Without the support of great donors like the Hawkins, the Lindseys and others, we wouldn't be in the position we are right now, having one of the top programs in the country."
Since 2000, the men's and women's tennis teams have combined to win 31 Big 12 team titles and four NCAA titles (one team, three individual). The Lady Bears have reached at least the Sweet 16 each of the last eight years, while the men are aiming for their 12th straight Sweet 16 appearance this spring.
The Hawkins' love for Baylor and generous support of her students and programs is apparent across campus and particularly evident in their support of Baylor athletics. The couple has faithfully supported scholarships for student-athletes as well as excellence funds for basketball, tennis and baseball, the Baylor Bear Foundation and mission trips by Baylor's Sports Ministry Teams. They generously provided the J-Hawk Limited and Nell Hawkins practice courts for Baylor's men's and women's basketball programs, and their first major gift to Baylor athletics funded a scoreboard at Floyd Casey Stadium.
The Hawkins' impact has also touched the university well beyond athletics. They are members of the Medallion Fellowship at the Judge R.E.B. Baylor Level, and both served on the Bush Library Steering Committee. Jim and Nell also have supported several areas of Baylor's Hankamer School of Business, including endowed scholarships and endowed faculty and staff positions. Jim has served on the Hankamer School of Business Board of Advisors and the Baylor Foundation board. Nell is an Art Angel for Baylor's Martin Museum of Art and is known for co-initiating the Gold Rush Campaign that transformed the spectator experience at Baylor's athletic events. Deeply valuing both Baylor and their local community, the couple has maintained involvement with the Baylor/Waco Foundation.