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2014 is the 45th anniversary of University of Arizona Rugby and, up till his passing last August, Dave Sitton was the head coach of the club program for 35 years or so. Long before he became the unofficial “Mayor of Tucson” through his stint as the “Voice of the Wildcats” on television, Dave came to Arizona to play baseball for the legendary Jerry Kindall.
Dave went on and had a great career in the many fields of public and private marketing, communications and philanthropic ventures that ultimately made him a household name in Tucson.
A new sports facility was constructed just east of the Student Rec Center on the UA campus last year and the naming dedication ceremony was held Saturday afternoon in front of several thousand fans, family members and former players of the rugby program.
It was part of a weekend that also included a golf fundraiser, brunch and an alumni game.
The “William David Sitton Field” is a full-size facility that can host many events according to current head coach Sean Duffy.
“This new field will be our home and the lacrosse team will play here also,” explained Duffy. “We will bring in clinics and tournaments to help build our brand and to strengthen the brand of Arizona.”
The field is lighted so it can host nighttime activities and there are plenty of bleachers for fans. According to Duffy, every Pac-12 college has a rugby program and this facility helps to set Arizona apart from the rest.
The dedication ceremony was followed by a heated game against ASU and the Wildcats defeated their rivals 51-38 while wearing new shirts with Dave’s initials worn of the sleeves. ASU (2-6, 1-4) was ranked 12th and Arizona (2-4, 1-2) was ranked 15th coming in.
Kindall gave the invocation and Lynn Zwaagstra (Director of Campus Recreation) handled all introductions during the ceremony.
Rocky LaRose (Former Arizona softball player, coach and Deputy Director of Athletics) gave personal remarks about her personal and professional relationship with Dave as did Provost Dr. Andrew C. Comrie and rugby alumni Chris Kron.
Zwaagstra, Frank Farias (Associate VP of Student Affair), Peter Tibireo (2012) and Craig Samoy (2013) were on hand to present Memorial Gifts to Dave’s daughters Olivia and Blakeney.
Olivia and Blakeney addressed the crowd and spoke of growing up around Arizona Rugby and urged the team to defeat ASU to closeout their heartfelt remarks.
On a personal note, I first met Dave when I was just a freshman in the spring of 1983. I was an assistant coach of Adaptive Athletics and he was already five years into his coaching of the rugby squad. He also helped our wheelchair club basketball team with marketing.
I touched base with him again many years later when I had the honor of coaching Blakeney in softball.
I had no idea Dave was only eight years older than me. As I have written before about our friendship, he gave the appearance of being so much older than in his late 20’s and had already figured out all the angles necessary to succeed.
More on the Rugby Team can be found at www.wildcatrugby.org
Admission to all games is only $5 with students and military admitted free.
Andy Morales has been a youth, high school and college coach for over 30 years. His own children have won multiple state high school championships and were named to all-state teams. Competing in hockey, basketball, baseball and track & field in high school, his unique perspective can only be found here and on the pages of the Vail Voice. Contact Andy Morales at AMoralesMyTucson@yahoo.com