Dick Appleyard laughs while remembering the rides as a kid in the family car.The frequent trips were "To somewhere out in the middle of nowhere."In the early 1960's, nowhere was a desolate area off Nine Mile Road. The place which is now the University of West Florida's sprawling campus. Appleyard's father,
Dick Appleyard laughs while remembering the rides as a kid in the family car.
The frequent trips were "To somewhere out in the middle of nowhere."
In the early 1960's, nowhere was a desolate area off Nine Mile Road. The place which is now the University of West Florida's sprawling campus.
Appleyard's father, Mr. John Appleyard, founder of The Appleyard Agency, a charter partner with the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, was close friends with Judge Harold B. Crosby, who became UWF's founding president when the university opened in 1963.
"We would go out there before the university was even built to check it out," said Dick Appleyard, who succeeded his father in 1987 as president of the Appleyard Agency. "So my connection to the UWF goes all the way back to then."
The bond continues in a rewarding way. Appleyard, a Pensacola High graduate, whose prep basketball stardom led to a scholarship at Alabama, then becoming UWF team captain and 1974 graduate, was Inducted Nov. 2 into the UWF Athletics Hall of Fame.
His induction was a special recognition enshrinement, joining acclaimed UWF female athletic stars Chelsea Palmer (soccer) and Naiara Fernandes (volleyball) in a three-member 2019 class. All three were additionally recognized at halftime of UWF's game Nov. 2 against North Greenville at Blue Wahoos Stadium.
Appleyard's father, 96-year-old Mr. Appleyard, who has become a fixture the past two years at the Blue Wahoos' Sunday home game radio broadcasts, was able to attend the football game and see his son's recognition.
Dick Appleyard's selection as a UWF Hall of Fame member honors his varied contributions to UWF, both as financial supporter and his company's role in helping UWF grow. He served as member of the prestigious Shield and Sword Committee, the UWF Football Founders as well as other advisory roles.
"It's a huge honor to be put into the hall of fame and it's made even more special by the fact this is not just because I could shoot a basketball or pass well, or whatever," he said. "It is more recognition for a love of UWF and being involved in the university since its beginning and supporting it in a variety of ways."
The Appleyard Agency has helped the Blue Wahoos through marketing, media connections, help with video production, advertising and other avenues.
Dick Appleyard makes sure his dad, a radio rock star, gets to the Sunday games. Both have carried a love for all things Pensacola. The near life-long attachment with UWF has helped enable the university to transform, especially in the past decade.
"I would have never been in the hall of fame based on what I just did on the basketball court," Appleyard said. "At UWF, it is a combination of things… support of the basketball program coming back and the football program starting and supporting them financially.
"So I am especially honored, because it's not because of a thing I did. It's kind of a work of business throughout my life."
When Appleyard transferred to UWF as a junior in 1972, after two seasons playing for the Crimson Tide, the university was a junior-senior school.
He played at UWF for coach Marvin Beck, who led Pensacola High to a pair of state championships in the 1960's, including a 30-0 perfect season in 1966 and became UWF's first men's basketball coach in 1967.
Beck was enshrined in the UWF Hall of Fame in 2004, along with former UWF athletic director Richard Berg, who re-started the men's basketball program in 1993 after a 17-year absence.
"The guys I grew up and idolized in basketball were on the first UWF basketball team -- guys like Jody Skelton, Tommy Lee and a few others," Appleyard said. "The first couple years, they were very successful and were in the top 20 in the country in NAIA.
"Back then, if you played basketball during the summer months -- it didn't matter how old you were -- if you were pretty good, you played with anyone. So I played a lot of ball against that team."
While playing at UWF, he was part of a historic, memorable trip to South Africa to play against in the South African Olympics during the time when South Africa was banned from the Olympic Games due to the apartheid era.
The West Florida Collegians, as the team was called, was the lone team from the U.S. to play in South Africa's version of the Olympics.
"We were the first integrated basketball team to play in South Africa," Appleyard said. "We had four African-American players on that team. (South African government) were making an effort to show they were trying to turn the corner and be more accepting.
"I had a fabulous couple weeks there. We played one or two games in Mozambique, and then other cities and that was pretty special."
Equally special is how Appleyard has seen UWF grow so rapidly as a university and its campus transform.
"You ride there now and see an incredible growth in a positive way," he said. "And the community impact the university has made is beyond description."