When they were students at William & Mary, Raelene Canuel Wagoner ’87 and Doug Wagoner ’87 rarely missed a home football or basketball game. Cheering on the Tribe was a fundamental part of their experience at the university, and one that they want to help enhance for current W&M students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends.

Through a $500,000 commitment to the new W&M Athletics Complex — a core element of the All In campaign for W&M Athletics —  the Wagoners hope to encourage other donors and promote a unifying culture in which varsity sports are fully integrated into the life of the university. They would like to see more Green & Gold spirit permeating throughout William & Mary in dorms, classrooms, research labs, art studios and performance spaces.

“Raelene and I wanted to make a transformational financial investment in the university, as we see the athletics complex as something that’s going to be transformational,” said Doug Wagoner, president and chief executive officer of government consulting firm LMI.

Man and two women
The Wagoners are shown at Homecoming & Reunion Weekend 2019 with their daughter Madeline Wagoner ’20. (Courtesy photo)

“As the building goes up, we hope student-athletes and the entire Tribe community will understand that William & Mary now has a culture where athletics are critical for a complete university experience and is going to fully support the athletics programs,” he said. “We hope other alumni will also want to contribute to this wonderful center that will make us more competitive for top athletic and academic talent and further raise our national profile.”

William & Mary broke ground last May on the reimagined William & Mary Athletics Complex that will encompass Kaplan Arena, the new Mackesy Sports Performance Center adjacent to the arena, the Mackesy Tennis Center, Busch Field and the Tribe Field Hockey Center.

To commemorate the Wagoners’ support, the men’s basketball locker room at the complex will be named in their honor.

”Athletics is essential to William & Mary’s overall excellence. We are grateful for devoted alumni like the Wagoners who are investing in our vision at this crucial moment,” said President Katherine Rowe. “Their generosity moves us closer to the opening of our magnificent W&M Athletics Complex.”

By providing top-quality spaces for athletes to compete, train and study, the new complex is expected to bring greater visibility of the university as an attractive destination for student-athletes and create a more vibrant environment for fans.

 “Our athletes will know they have the resources they need to hone their skills while pursuing the caliber of education that comes with attending William & Mary,” Director of Athletics Brian D. Mann said. “We also look forward to the excitement our new complex will generate on game days for students, faculty and staff, alumni and friends. This project would not be possible without robust support from alumni and friends like the Wagoners.”

After last spring’s groundbreaking, construction of the Mackesy Sports Performance Center is underway, with a little more than $2 million needed to complete the first phase of the W&M Athletics Complex. The Sports Performance Center will encompass strength and conditioning areas, study spaces, a sports medicine area and a full-size practice court. Also part of the project’s first phase will be refurbishing locker rooms in Kaplan Arena, along with a new videoboard and lighting — as well as a new audio system — for the playing area.

The renovated Mackesy Tennis Center at the Millie West Courts is set to be dedicated this fall. Phase two of the W&M Athletics Complex will improve Kaplan Arena’s seating and fan amenities, and expand and renovate the lobby and building facade.

In addition to fundraising, the All In campaign seeks to engage and build community and increase annual giving.

Generating interest in athletics is an essential part of building community, Doug Wagoner said, adding that students who regularly attend games at William & Mary are more likely to support the university’s athletics and academic programs as alumni.

“It’s an expected part of a total collegiate experience now,” he said. “If you can get excited about sports at your school during those four years, it will keep you connected throughout your life.” 

Doug Wagoner, who holds an MBA from Virginia Tech, has served on the William & Mary Business School Foundation and Business Analytics Advisory Board at the Raymond A. Mason School of Business. A current W&M Foundation trustee, Raelene Wagoner is vice president of talent management at Unison. She has also served on the Cohen Career Center Advisory Board and is a charter member of the Society of 1918, an organization committed to growing the engagement, leadership and philanthropy of W&M women.

When their daughter Madeline Wagoner ’20 attended William & Mary, the Wagoners served on the Parent & Family Council. In addition, the couple were leaders in the Washington, D.C., region during the For the Bold fundraising campaign.

Their leadership roles as alumni have given them insight into the university’s funding priorities.

“Volunteer roles open your eyes to the needs, help educate you on why the needs are important, and allow space for us to give our input and ask questions,” Raelene Wagoner said. “Alumni involvement — through volunteering in some way or serving on boards — helps a lot with philanthropy.”

For students, participating in varsity athletics cultivates discipline, leadership and time-management skills as they balance the demands of a rigorous academic curriculum with a busy schedule of practice and competition, the Wagoners said. And for students who don’t play on teams themselves, being part of a competitive environment is good preparation for life after graduation.

“The workplace is a competitive team sport,” Doug Wagoner said. “Every day, you and your collogues are  competing for customers, for investors, for talent, for resources. Through athletics, whether your team wins or loses, you see the preparation, teamwork and grit that’s required to succeed and sometimes things just don’t go your way. Those are important life lessons for the entire student body as they embark on the next phases of life.”  

“Seeing the dedication of student-athletes inspires you to pour that kind of commitment into dance, or writing, or engineering or business,” added Raelene Wagoner. “It creates a competitive fire throughout the university.”