Scott Applegate came to work for Davidson as an assistant athletic trainer Oct. 15, 1989. Soon after, he was on a bus trip with the men's soccer team, and as he spent time on vans and in hotels with the team, he knew he made the right career decision.
The student athletes who have worked with Applegate over the past 27 years agree with his choice, too, and their lives are better because they know him. One group of men's soccer alumni from the class of 2002 have pooled funds to create a scholarship named for "Gator," as he is known to them.
"It's really special that these guys cared enough about our relationship and what I did while they were here that they want to honor me by creating a scholarship to bring other great kids here," said Applegate. "I'm really proud of this class and what they've accomplished, and I can't think of anything nicer that they could do for me. We are so focused on raising money for scholarships in order to bring the best students to Davidson, and I'm glad I can be a small part of that important work."
The purpose of the scholarship, in addition to honoring a special influence on student athletes' lives, is to attract players who will continue to help the men's soccer program compete at the national level. The alumni also hope the program inspires others to give. This scholarship is something the teammates have talked about doing ever since they graduated, and they are thrilled to have it come to life.
"Everyone that was part of the program during Scott's two decades as a trainer has unique memories," said Jon Tetirick '02, senior associate at C.W. Downer & Co. in Boston. "My favorites include his vocal side-line support, our pre-season trip to Brazil where he discovered the infamous ‘dreams'-sugar doughnuts-and his hilarious attempts at trash talking. But truly, I relied on Scott for life advice. I got to know him as a friend, and we still keep in touch to this day."
The contributors to the scholarship know it will make a difference for Head Coach Matt Spear '93 and his recruiting efforts.
"Davidson provides that unique combination of superior academics and athletics to its student athletes," said Derek Kilburn '02, director and chief operating officer at Wells Fargo in Charlotte. "There is no doubt I wouldn't be where I am today, both personally and professionally, without Davidson. I've always felt that playing for a program where you can compete against the best Division I schools in the country gives you that little edge that helps in all you do."
After many years as an assistant and then head athletic trainer for Davidson, Applegate added oversight of athletic facilities to his list of responsibilities. He was promoted to assistant athletic director and then to associate athletic director, the title he holds today.
"Gator was always more than a trainer to us," said Kilburn. "You could tell from day one that he cared about how we did on the field. As a freshman, I distinctly remember our ‘intense' trainer getting as into the games as any coach I've ever seen."
"This class was in their senior year during my initial 2001 season, and they were pivotal in my transition," said Spear. "They were excellent, driven athletes but what was and remains more powerful is the pride, passion and bond they feel for each other and for Davidson. This is a wonderful honor for Scott as he was so instrumental in many student-athletes' lives way beyond merely patching them up to compete."
Applegate looks ahead to the future of Davidson Athletics, and he is where he wants to be.
"People ask me why I've stuck around for so many years," he said. "Davidson has been really good to me. I've had opportunities to grow, and it's a great environment for my family. The caliber of students we get here is different from other places, and although I don't work as closely with the student athletes today as I did in my earlier roles, I really enjoy getting to know them. To put it simply, I think we do things right."
The Scott Applegate Men's Soccer Scholarship will first be awarded during the 2016-17 academic year as a current use scholarship. Additional support will go toward endowing the scholarship program. Anyone interested in contributing should contact Suzette McQueen, associate director of the Davidson Athletic Fund office, at 704-894-2107.