Brenau unveils Ernest Ledford Grindle Athletics Department at dedication ceremony

Doug and Kay Ivester unveil new sign
Doug and Kay Ivester unveil the sign designating the Ernest Ledford Grindle Athletics Department.

Brenau University unveiled new signage bearing the logo for the Ernest Ledford Grindle Athletics Department during a dedication ceremony April 8 between games of a softball double-header at Ernest Ledford Grindle Athletics Park in the New Holland community.

The naming of the athletics department, first announced by the university in late November, was funded by the Melvin Douglas and Victoria Kay Ivester Foundation. The gift for the naming of the department is the second from the Ivester Foundation to support athletics at Brenau in honor of Grindle; the first was funding to create the Ernest Ledford Grindle Athletics Park. Doug and Kay Ivester both grew up in New Holland.

Brenau President David Barnett noted that the location for the celebration was significant not only because of its name, but also as a reminder of the importance of community.

“Our location today also represents community. It is my firm belief that through engaging with the people in our community from varying backgrounds – whether at neighborhood picnics or softball games – we grow into the best versions of ourselves,”Barnett said. “This location was an important epicenter of the New Holland community that has meant so much to the Grindles, the Ivesters and all of those families who have called it home. Brenau is proud to be part of New Holland as well, and we are grateful for the opportunity to help honor the memory of Ernest Ledford Grindle.”

Grindle, who was Kay Ivester’s father, was born and raised in New Holland. He attended New Holland School on the site now home to Brenau’s Ernest Ledford Grindle Athletics Park. Grindle joined the U.S. Navy at 17 and served in the North Atlantic, the Mediterranean and Japan. Upon returning to Hall County after the war, he married his childhood sweetheart, Mary Inez Wilson, also of New Holland. After working for Pacolet Manufacturing Co. and General Motors, Grindle started his own successful business.

Lynn Darby, president of the Melvin Douglas and Victoria Kay Ivester Foundation, explained why the Foundation supports Brenau.

“I have known and worked with Kay and Doug Ivester for the last 50-plus years,” Darby said. “They have long been focused on making the lives of Gainesville and Hall County citizens better and the Foundation is always looking to support facilities, programs and activities which do just that – ‘make lives better.’ Athletics is one of those elements which contributes to well-rounded lives and we are pleased to be supportive of the athletics program at Brenau.”

Gainesville Mayor Sam Couvillon, who also thanked the Ivesters for their support of the community, noted the close relationship between the city and Brenau.

“Brenau University is Gainesville’s university,” Couvillon said. “There’s a synergy there between the city and the university that makes Gainesville better. I’m very grateful that we have Brenau here and I’m also grateful that we have such generous people like Kay and Doug Ivester who have an altruistic and philanthropic heart and are willing to give back.”

Michael Lochstampfor, Brenau’s vice president of athletics, thanked the Foundation for the ongoing support.

“Our student-athletes have been successful in the classroom and in competition, and this newest commitment from the Ivesters and their Foundation will elevate the level of excellence that is expected from our Golden Tigers,” Lochstampfor said. “On behalf of the student-athletes, I offer my thanks to the Ivester Foundation for the generous and ongoing support of our programs.”

Brenau is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics and supports 12 varsity sports and 15 teams. Its roughly 150 student-athletes have an overall GPA of 3.4, and 47 of those are NAIA Scholar-Athletes.