One of the last gifts to the All In fundraising campaign that pushed it past the finish line came from a lifelong William & Mary runner.
As the campaign was drawing to a close, Richard A. “Rick” Platt ’72 made a $2.3 million gift that will strengthen the financial foundation of the W&M Athletics Department as well as transform athletics facilities. Overall, All In raised a grand total of $57.2 million, more than $2 million over the original goal, thanks to the outpouring of support from 11,206 donors.
Passionate about Tribe Athletics since his student-athlete days as a member of the cross country, track & field and swimming teams, Platt has stayed close to William & Mary for more than five decades. It seemed natural then for him to donate funds toward a project that would have a major impact — in this case a total renovation of the men’s and women’s track & field and cross country locker rooms in Zable Stadium. Platt’s generosity will jumpstart the $3 million-plus project. While additional funds still need to be raised in order to fully fund the renovation, this gift allows the renovation project to begin.
“I found this idea very appealing,” said Platt. “It will be a permanent improvement that will greatly help the team and recruiting. I toured the locker rooms with Brian Mann (director of athletics) and Alex Heacock (director of track & field and cross country) and found that not much had changed in the 55 years since I entered it for my first cross country workout as a freshman.”
Platt’s first day on the cross country team back then also included another first. “After our workout, we walked up Richmond Road to a social event hosted by Randy Hawthorne ’67, J.D. ’70, M.L.T. ’71 and Shelby Smith Hawthorne ’67, M.A.Ed. ’75, who for over five decades have been supporters of William & Mary, the athletics department and the track & field and cross country programs. We have been friends since that first meeting and it was Randy who told me that the locker rooms needed a complete renovation,” he said.
Platt’s generosity will have a permanent and positive impact on the program he loves, said W&M Athletics Director Brian Mann. “We are so grateful to Rick. His gift gave us some much-needed momentum as we neared the close of the All In campaign and it is a game-changer for our cross country and track programs,” said Mann. “When the new locker rooms are finished, it will signal that our program has taken a huge step forward. And I’ll be incredibly grateful for additional contributions to help us ensure we can get the renovation done as soon as possible!”
William & Mary’s Director of Track & Field and Cross Country Alex Heacock concurs about the impact of Platt’s gift. “The new locker rooms will transform the day-to-day experiences of the student-athletes in in our women’s and men’s programs. Plus, it will undoubtedly help with recruiting and it will be one of the first places we take recruits and their families. We are thrilled with Rick’s incredibly generous gift and with his partnership,” he said.
Self-described as a procrastinator, Platt says this trait helped him make the investment that led to his gift. He followed stocks religiously and had his eye on Apple, which after reaching $160/share encountered some tough times as a fledgling tech startup. “Not to diminish the value of my contribution to W&M, but the actual cost to me of the shares of Apple stock that were transferred to W&M was $2,839. I have the late Steve Jobs to thank for taking Apple from near bankruptcy to becoming the most valuable company in the world, allowing my contribution to the W&M men’s and women’s track and cross country programs.”
“Was I able to foresee the future to predict the coming of iPhones, iPads, Apple watches, etc.?” Platt explains. “Not a chance, I just liked my Macintosh llcx desktop computer, plus I was always drawn to tech stocks.” It was an attraction that paid off with the purchase of IBM stock to add to his portfolio.
When not playing and winning at the stock market, Platt has been a dedicated runner his entire life, and his love of the sport is what brought him to W&M. As a student at the George School in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, where he grew up, he broke several school records and appeared headed to Princeton, but that didn’t work out. Subsequently, the Princeton coach made a call on Platt’s behalf to the Tribe’s head coach. The rest, as they say, is history!
Busy with sports during his undergraduate days, he also found time to hone his journalism skills as a writer for The Flat Hat student newspaper, and he also worked at WCWM, the college radio station. After graduation, he began writing about running for the Virginia Gazette, and he was a founding senior editor for Running Times Magazine. He is also the founder of Run Fast Promotions and is a consultant and elite athlete coordinator for major running events.
A longtime resident of Williamsburg, Platt runs 35-40 miles each week, usually on the Lake Matoaka trails, but always on a soft surface, which he credits for the fact that during his career he has been relatively free of major injuries, allowing him to set several state records. His lifetime best in the marathon is 2:23:55 and 51:50 for 10 miles. He still holds the Virginia state record in the 10K for men ages 55-59 and previously held three others. He was president of the Peninsula Track Club for three years in the 1970s, and since 1994 been president and race coordinator for the Williamsburg-based Colonial Road Runners, a club that directs two dozen annual races.
Platt is eagerly anticipating the next chapter in the history of the Tribe’s cross country and track programs. As he watches the progress on the project that his gift helped fund, he will be joined by many in the Tribe community, who are thankful that Platt is All In for W&M Athletics.
Athletics is continuing to raise money to fully fund the project and gifts can be made to the Track & Field and Cross Country Facilities Fund (5491) at give.wm.edu or by contacting Jason Simms, associate athletics director, at email@example.com or 757-221-3241.