Playing In His Father’s Arena

Thursday night’s basketball game against Johns Hopkins marked the first time Hopkins freshman Michael Gardner took the court in the athletics center named for his late father, Douglas B. Gardner ’83.

(From left: Julia Gardner, Allison Lutnick, Michael Gardner, Jennifer Gardner Trulson, and Howard Lutnick ’83)

Last week’s basketball doubleheader against visiting Johns Hopkins had special meaning for generations of Fords. It marked the first time that Michael Gardner, a freshman on the Hopkins team, played in the athletics center named for his late father. The Douglas B. Gardner ’83 Integrated Athletics Center (GIAC), opened in October 2005, is a state-of-the-art, LEED gold-certified facility that was built as a memorial to a Haverford basketball player who died tragically in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. (Two other Fords who died on 9/11, Thomas Glasser ’82 and Calvin Gooding ’84, are also honored in the GIAC, where the Hall of Achievement and the basketball arena bear their names, respectively.)

“I have been waiting for a long time for this day,” said Michael’s mother, Jennifer Gardner Trulson. “It fills me with such pride. Yes, it’s bittersweet because Doug isn’t here to see him. But I feel Doug pacing the sidelines, and I can hear his voice booming out, rooting his son on, even against his beloved Fords. It thrills me to see my son on this court playing the game that he is as passionate about as his father was, and playing so well and playing in his dad’s arena.”

Michael had a good first game in his dad’s arena, coming off the bench to collect two points, one rebound, one assist, and one steal to contribute to Hopkins’ 61-50 win over the Fords. The game was his first return to the GIAC since he attended its opening 10 years ago, and he looks forward to playing in it again over the course of his collegiate basketball career.

The special occasion brought out friends and family of Doug Gardner, including Howard Lutnick ’83, his best friend and the lead donor to the athletic center project that honors his memory.

1982-83 team (1)
The 1982-83 Haverford basketball team. Doug Gardner is seventh from the left (just to the right of the man holding the basketball), and Calvin Gooding is on the end to the right.

“Doug was a big, tall, strong basketball player,” said Lutnick, chairman and CEO of Cantor Fitzgerald, where Gardner also worked. “He loved to play on the floor, so I thought building an athletic center with a great basketball court really would be a spectacular way to honor him and to make sure his memory stayed alive and fresh at Haverford for anybody who walked into the place.”

That memory is certainly alive for Michael, who said that he is continually inspired by his father’s example. “If I can be like my dad was,” he said, “I would consider it a successful life.”

Photo: Hina Fathima ’15