Winning Move

Alumnus supports UAB Athletics for the long run

Rick Guilbau

Rick Guilbau

Sports have always had special meaning for Rick Guilbeau. When he was growing up in Lafayette, Louisiana, his aunt was a regular at University of Southwestern Louisiana (currently University of Louisiana—Lafayette) basketball games. "I would go with her and I became a big basketball fan," says Rick. "I always liked football as well."

That may be an understatement. Wherever life took him—from Lafayette to the Air Force, where he served four and a half years as an aircraft maintenance officer in Illinois and California, then back to Louisiana where he took a job with South Central Bell Telephone Company that eventually moved him to Birmingham—Rick would turn out to support the local teams.

"Even at Illinois University when they lost 10 in a row," he says with a laugh.

He was in Birmingham, rising through the ranks on the South Central Bell network staff, when UAB started its basketball program in 1977, hiring coach Gene Bartow from UCLA. "I started attending games and then when they moved into the facility that is now Bartow Arena I got season tickets and started contributing to the program," Rick says. "I became a huge fan." When UAB started a club football team in 1989, "I was one of maybe 200 fans in the stands," he says. "We could have each had our own section."

When UAB Athletics started the Blazer Club program to raise support, Rick joined up. He was at UAB's first Division 1 game against Auburn University, just as he had been with Blazer Football throughout its time in Division III and Division II. During basketball season he was a fixture as well, becoming a member of the elite Golden 100 supporters program. "I still follow my home school of Southwestern, but not very well," Rick says. "I'm a UAB fan."

When UAB's football program was canceled in 2014, Rick took action, contributing to the record fundraising drive that allowed the team to return through a legacy gift. "I was in the process of retiring and my investments had done well," Rick says. "My wife, Avelyn, and I were talking about where we wanted to leave our money when we're both gone, and this seemed like a good place to me. It was critical that those of us who support UAB Athletics show financial support as well." The fact that athletics was able to demonstrate such strong community support "had a great deal to do with the fact we have a football program today," Rick notes with pride.

Legacy giving made perfect sense, Rick says. "You don't want to put out a ton of money right away. We made this legacy gift so that when we're both gone, it can help the [Athletics] program continue." The irrevocable gift will support the UAB Football Operations Center and Legacy Pavilion, where a hydrotherapy room now bears the Guilbeau name. "It's a fantastic facility," he says. "We're very proud of it."

UAB Football head coach Bill Clark has credited the facility with making a major difference on the field for the Blazers. "As a university, we've decided to be first class in everything we do, and this is a great example," he told UAB Magazine. "We're acting like a national team."

The team notched its second bowl invite in its first season back, and Rick was on hand for the game in the Bahamas. Then UAB Football posted its best-ever record in 2018, including the first conference championship and bowl win, in the Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl. Rick was at the conference game and, even though he had to miss the Boca Bowl due to a family commitment, he still did his part to power the team. "I bought tickets anyway," he says.

What will your legacy be? For more information on the types of available legacy gifts or how you can make a difference at UAB, please contact the Office of Planned Giving at (205) 996-7533 or plannedgiving@uab.edu.

QUESTIONS? I CAN HELP.

Kimberley S. Coppock, J.D.
Director of Development
Office of Planned Giving
kcoppock@uab.edu
(205) 975-5970

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