HomeSportsUF Softball: Ron & Janie Young Get Named Space at KSP
UF Softball: Ron & Janie Young Get Named Space at KSP
February 1, 2021
Courtesy of University Athletic Association
BY CHRIS HARRY
South Florida attorney Ron Young and his wife retired to Gainesville in 2007 and have been mainstays at Gator sporting events and generous donors ever since. The right field berm at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium has named in their honor.
The conversation seemed routine and fairly random. Florida softball coach Tim Walton had stopped by a post-game barbecue after the team’s final game at the former version of Seashole-Pressly Stadium. Walton was visiting with one of the program’s biggest fans and frequent donors and the conversation turned to the pending renovation of the stadium and complex.
Ron Young asked Walton if the ambitious $15 million project was going to provide everything the program needed. Walton gave what Young interpreted as a shrug of acceptance. The coach said he really wanted the home bullpen area — known as the “Pitching Lab” — to be covered to protect from the elements, but it cost too much.
Young put in a call to Gator Boosters, Inc., to ask about that cost. He figured the number would be about $75,000, give or take.
“I was told around $180,000,” Young said. “Typical UF, right? Only the best.”
Young emailed Walton, vowing to help him get the roof.
More emails soon followed.
“They’d say, ‘Hey I got you five [thousand].’ Then, ‘I got 10.’ Then ‘I got 25, I got 35, I got you $40,000.’ Next thing I knew, we had someone who could build it for like 130 — and he might have raised 185,” Walton recalled. “Long story short, I had a vision and Ron Young and his wife made it happen.”
The state-of-the-art “Lab” opened for business alongside the stadium’s grand debut for the start of the 2019 season. Two years later, as the Gators prepare to usher in the 2021 season next month, the Young family’s loyalty and generosity will be honored with the christening of a new named space — the “Ron and Janie Young Berm” — in the right-field foul territory at KSP Stadium.
The Gators open their home schedule Feb. 17 against Jacksonville, with the berm open for business, as well.
“The Youngs are a great example of people who have developed a connection with the Gators and exhibit that connection not only through the passion of coming to sporting events, but their generosity,” UF athletic director Scott Stricklin said. ‘”We’re so appreciative.”
As a Gator fan, Young was something of a late-bloomer. Born in tiny Toxey, Ala., his family moved to Key West in the mid-1950s. There, Young became a standout prep baseball player and won three state championships at Key West High — alongside teammates Boog Powell and George Mira — before heading off to play collegiately at Mississippi Southern (since renamed Southern Miss).
After graduating, Young spent six years in the Army, then enrolled at UF law school and eventually embarked on a successful practice as real estate, commercial, and estate planning law in West Palm Beach for nearly 25 years.
During their time in South Florida, Young and his wife were devoted UF football season-ticket holders and made the trek up the turnpike for all home games. When Young’s wife joined him in retirement in 2007 the couple decided to eliminate the drive time to those sports by moving to Gainesville permanently and, in turn, becoming permanent fixtures at just about every Gator event.
“Softball, baseball, basketball, volleyball, gymnastics, tennis, and football, of course,” Janie said. “We love going to all of the sports.”
The Youngs have been lavish donors over their years — a conference room in the softball complex already bears their name — but along the way they’ve grown especially fond of Walton’s program and players, with a particularly affinity for the game-day experience that softball offers. Go to a UF softball game, and the Youngs will be there tailgating with the other orange and blue diehards.
“Those young ladies and their coach are such good people,” said Young, who was in Oklahoma City in both 2014 and ’15 when UF won the Women’s College World Series.. “They make us proud to be Gators.”
The feeling is mutual. Above all, it’s appreciated.
“The Youngs are people who are just drawn to help our [UF] programs. They don’t do it because they have to, but because they want to, whether we win or lose. There’s a sincerity there you can’t make up,” Walton said. “We’ve earned their respect, and they’ve certainly earned mine. They’re not coming to me and saying, ‘Quit giving up home runs’ or “Stop throwing change-ups.’ They’ve just stepped up and given our players a better chance to compete and develop and enjoy their experiences here. I appreciate their generosity and their commitment to all Gator programs and certainly their willingness to contribute to ours.”