On the 75th anniversary of Jackie Robinson's enrollment at UCLA, athletic director Dan Guerrero announced that the university's 22 athletic facilities will be renamed the Jackie Robinson Athletics and Recreation Complex, in lasting tribute to the man who broke baseball's color barrier.
The announcement was made at a special ceremony on Friday that celebrated the life and legacy of the four-sport standout. Robinson played baseball, football and basketball and ran track at UCLA from 1939-41.
Robinson’s No.42, will be placed in-ground at the entrance of each facility to remind students of his courage. That includes Pauley Pavilion, the John Wooden Center, and the J.D. Morgan Center, among others. UCLA's baseball stadium was already named after Robinson.
“Jackie Robinson was an inspiration for my dad’s love for UCLA, a love that I inherited and really embraced,” Guerrero said. “UCLA became a place that transformed my life just as (Robinson’s) courage, character, his work ethic, and his talent helped to transform the lives of many individuals.”
Rachel Robinson, Jackie’s wife, shares that love of UCLA. It was at the university where she first met Jackie Robinson and their life together began. She, too, was on hand to help with the unveiling.
Chancellor Gene Block & Rachel Robinson at naming ceremony of the Jackie Robinson Athletics and Recreation Complex pic.twitter.com/As2j9jP6kk— UCLA Athletics (@UCLAAthletics) November 21, 2014
“UCLA was the place where our lives together began and where many of our values and goals were established,” Rachel Robinson said. “Jack was very proud to be Bruin. We thrived in this university that supported our goals and achievements.”
The tributes will continue for Robinson throughout the weekend. The Daily Bruin notes that Robinson's No. 42 will be painted on the 25-yard line and worn on the helmets of each football player during UCLA's home game against rival USC on Saturday. Also, during the first quarter break, there will be an in-stadium video honoring Robinson’s legacy.
There is no doubt UCLA is going above and beyond to honor the university's most important and influential student-athlete. Guerrero expects that current and future athletes will now have an even greater understanding and appreciation of Robinson's contributions on and off the field, and will strive to match them as they move forward.
“I expect Bruin coaches and student athletes to represent this university with character and class at their time at UCLA and long after their gone, just like (Robinson) did,” Guerrero said. “I also expect them to compete to the very best of their abilities and to handle success and adversity with the dignity that (Robinson) did.”
After witnessing these honors, it's difficult to imagine students and student-athletes not being motivated in some form or fashion to follow Robinson's path. There will never be another Jackie Robinson, but adopting his characteristics is a good place to start.
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