Sammy Cox is a big UNC Pembroke baseball fan, but his latest gift in support of Braves athletics took a different turn.
On April 9, the university dedicated the remodeled softball locker room to Sammy and his wife Onita Cox. The new locker room is carpeted with wood-finished lockers with player names on them.
Lumberton businessman Sammy Cox with wife, Onita, and UNCP softball coach Brittany Bennett in the new locker room that bears their name.
Sammy Cox, a 1976 UNCP graduate and Lumberton businessman, has been a fan of Braves baseball since he was an undergraduate. He had never seen a softball game. While attending a baseball game last spring, he got a pitch he could not refuse.
“I got into a conversation with two of the softball players,” he said. “They asked me to come to a game, so I went to a couple.”
When Director of Athletics Dick Christy asked Cox to support a major locker room renovation, he jumped at the chance.
“What Sammy and Onita Cox have done is very important for our programs,” Christy said. “We want our student-athletes to have a first-class experience, and it did not take long to see that Sammy and Onita shared our vision that we needed to improve these locker areas.”
This is the second major gift for the Coxes. In 2005, the university dedicated the baseball field to them. Cox is a Lumberton businessman who is never at a loss for words to describe how he feels about UNCP.
“I was fortunate to have UNCP in my life,” he said. “I grew up in a family without a lot of education. I am the first person in the family to earn a college degree.”
“Before college, I got a call from Uncle Sam to spend a year in Vietnam,” he continued. “I came home a little lost. Without this university, I would not have a college education.
Sammy and Onita Cox share a laugh with the softball team at the dedication of the new locker room.
“I am very fortunate to be in a position to give back,” Cox said. “Supporting the university as a whole is very important. This university is important to me and to a lot more people in this community.”
Softball coach Brittany Bennett said the gift has already made a difference for the team.
“I think for Mr. Cox it is about making a difference in people’s lives,” Bennett said. “The funding he has given a space the players can take pride in and call their own. I know that this locker room will positively affect our future Braves. We know that just a simple thank you can never express how appreciative we are.”
With the entire softball team looking on, Sammy and Onita cut the ribbon and watched a video of the team thanking them. Every player stepped up to the plate.
“Thanks for your continued support and donations to the university,” said Natalie Kleman.
“This gives us a great place to hang out. It is really a big step for our program,” said Brea Hartley.
“I met you last year at the baseball game,” said Katie Wilson. “It’s really nice to get to know you.”
Sammy Cox now has his own t-shirt to show his support of Women’s Softball at UNCP.
This spring, UNCP is upgrading five team locker rooms in the English E. Jones Health and Physical Education Center.
For more information about giving to UNCP and Braves athletics, please contact the Office of Advancement at (910) 521-6252.