The Arizona Wildcats announced Friday that they will name their outdoor practice fields after Dick Tomey, the legendary head coach who passed away in May.
The naming presentation, as well as a dedication, will be completed and take place sometime later this season, according to the school.
The winningest coach in program history, Tomey went 95-64-4 record in 14 seasons at Arizona, including the 1998 season when the Wildcats went 12-1.
Here is what people are saying about the honor:
Athletic director Dave Heeke: “Our Wildcat family is proud to honor Coach Tomey in a very special way. His legacy at the University of Arizona touched the lives of many and still resonates to this day. This tribute to an icon will forever embody his tremendous spirit and everlasting love for his players, the program, the university and the community.”
Donnie Salum (1988-89): “There could not be a better man for the Arizona Football practice fields to be named after than Coach Tomey. Two hours don’t go by that I don’t think about him. I think everyone who played for him is going to be touched by this great tribute to him. We all talk about the lessons Coach taught us that will stick with us for the rest of our lives, and the practice fields are where those lessons were taught. He was always talking about getting better, and you get better in practice, not on game day. Practices were intense and tough. He always pushed us to be our very best. He was the greatest coach I ever practiced or played with.”
Lance Briggs (1999-2002): “I think one of the biggest names that should always be associated with Arizona Football is Dick Tomey. Naming the practice fields after him is one way to keep the legend of his name alive, so that no one ever forgets. Coach wanted to find the tough guy in you in practice. The practices were difficult and physical, but they prepared you fully for games. I think the true measure of a man is not how great of a football player you are, but how great of a man you can be, and that was always something Coach Tomey talked about to us on the practice fields. It will bring me a lot of joy every time I go to the practice fields now to see Coach being honored. The players at Arizona now will spend more time on the practice field than anywhere else, so it’s very appropriate. It’s great to know the name, Dick Tomey, will be immortalized in Arizona Football history forever.”
Keith Smith (1996-99): “Dick Tomey is Arizona football. I would not have come to Tucson without him there. Playing for him, I can see the impact he had on all of his players. He took you in, even after you graduated, he would follow up and call you and make sure he knew what was going on in your life. There are so many things like that who make him who he is. He’s a leader of young men. He just did so much for me as a person. It’s very cool the school is doing that. It’s much deserved. I can’t say enough good things about Coach Tomey.”
Nanci Kincaid (Tomey’s wife): “Dick Tomey’s extended family appreciates the University of Arizona paying tribute to him by naming the football practice fields in his honor. The practice field is where sweat and tears are shed, seeds of triumph are planted, magic firsts happen, and lifetime bonds are forged among teammates. There is nothing easy about the practice field. Here, the work ethic is honed, character is developed and resilience is essential. When at its toughest and best, the practice field teaches players the love of competition, the thrill of precision teamwork, the rewards of personal sacrifice and inspires them in well-earned pride in being an Arizona Wildcat. There is not a more fitting way to honor Dick Tomey.”
Rich Tomey (Tomey’s son): “He would be truly honored with this dedication. It’s exactly spot-on. With the emphasis he put on preparation, it is very fitting to have the practice fields named after him. He put a lot into practice. He was very tough, but everyone knew he loved them and that he held everyone to the same standard. Once he was done coaching, everywhere he went, he always wanted to stand there and watch practice. It gives everyone a chance to compete and improve.”
Kevin Sumlin: “Our student-athletes will be able to share in Coach Tomey’s legacy throughout the entire year when they step onto those fields. Nearly every day they will be reminded of what Coach Tomey stood for: integrity, love, passion for the game and passion for those who played it. I cannot think of a more appropriate way to honor Coach Tomey’s legacy.”