UF Baseball: Florida Ballpark’s Third Base Dugout Set to Become Hooks Family Dugout

Lakeland’s Hollis and Debbie Hooks have gone from longtime UF football fans to lifetime Gator everything fans.

Thanks to a generous gift from Hollis and Debbie Hooks, the dugout on the third base line of Florida Ballpark will be named the Hooks Family Dugout, as approved by UF’s Board of Trustees March 26.

“We are forever grateful for the Hooks’ family commitment to Gator athletics,” said Athletic Director Scott Stricklin. “Their long-term generosity has touched so many facilities and projects, from scholarship endowments, academics, football, softball, and now our new Florida ballpark. They share in our vision for across-the-board excellence in our athletic program and are committed to the student-athlete experience.”

Hollis previously served on the Gator Boosters Board of Directors, while Debbie is currently serving on the board and is a 1974 graduate of the University of Florida, earning her BFA in Fine Arts. They are avid Gators fans and have been generous supporters of Gators Athletics.

For more details about the Hooks’ support through the years, follow this link to FloridaGators.com Senior Writer Chris Harry’s story on their latest donation.

The Hooks are residents of Lakeland, where Hollis serves as Senior Vice President of Wealth Management at Morgan Stanley. Following graduation from Mercer University, Hollis spent two years in Washington, D.C., as an aide to then-U.S. Senator Lawton Chiles.

Community involvement has been a hallmark of Hollis’ career and an important aspect of his life in Lakeland and Polk County. He was elected to the Polk County School Board, where he also served as chairman. He served on the Board of Directors and Chairman of the Lakeland Regional Medical Center, Polk State College, Lakeland Regional Medical Center Foundation, Leadership Lakeland Alumni, Polk Education Foundation, and Achievement Academy. He is a past recipient of the Jere Annis Award, given by the Leadership Lakeland Alumni Association in recognition of his volunteer service to the Lakeland community. Hollis was inducted into the Polk County School Board Hall of Fame in 2015.

Debbie taught middle school art from 1975-77, after which she opened a business, The Frame Factory & Gallery, an art gallery and picture framing company that specialized in museum mounting framing. In 1980, Debbie sold the business and became a stay-at-home mother. From 1974 to 1995, Debbie did extensive volunteer work in the community, serving on boards and chairing fundraising committees in the Junior League of Greater Lakeland. Debbie re-entered the business world with her sister in 2004, when they opened The Fancy Frog, a specialty monogram shop and gift store. Debbie left the business in 2011 to spend more time with family.

The UAA is in the midst of a $155 million fundraising campaign to complete its three-phase facilities master plan (more info here).

Phase 1 included the construction of football’s Condron Family Indoor Practice Facility, the $25 million construction of the Otis Hawkins Center at Farrior Hall, and $69.8 million in renovations to Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. Phase 2 is already underway and featured the completion of $15 million in renovations to Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium earlier this year and will conclude with the construction of Florida Ballpark – which has an estimated budget of $65 million. Phase 3 is the construction of the Florida Football Training Center.