House of Raeford Farms, Inc., is making a $1 million gift to the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) Athletics to provide funding for a $2 million indoor practice facility at Brooks Field that will benefit the school’s baseball and softball teams.

The donation is one of the largest ever to the athletics department since its origination in the early 1950s.

“We feel very strongly about the need for our generation to invest into the lives of young people,” said Bob Johnson, president & CEO of House of Raeford. “Athletics provides a great platform to develop positive character traits that lead to successful futures for these young men and women. Enhancing the athletic programs at our universities, we believe is one of the ways to help produce lasting results.”

The 14,000-square-foot facility will include a practice area for pitchers and hitters with surrounding netting and mechanical drop nets from the ceiling. It will also feature a large team meeting room, umpires’ locker room, rest rooms, and storage space. The project will allow teams to not only work on hitting, but hone their defensive skills and take ground balls as well.

“We’re very appreciative of the Bob and Luanne Johnson and Dennis and Diane Beasley families, owners of House of Raeford, for this contribution that will allow us to start this project,” said Mark Scalf, UNCW’s 22-year head coach. “It will give our players an opportunity to work and practice the way many other programs around the country currently do.”

Scalf said the team has 18 practice days before the start of each season and inclement weather limited the Seahawks to just five practices last spring. The new facility will solve that dilemma.”This has been in discussion for a long time and for it to become a reality is very exciting for us. It will be a big boost to our recruiting and for the developmental side of the players already in the program, ” Scalf said.

Director of Athletics Jimmy Bass said the donation will be transformative in nature and provide a huge boost for the department.”We’re very grateful for the generosity of House of Raeford,” said Bass. “This substantial gift will give our programs a facility that’s long overdue and will help our deserving student-athletes in so many ways.”