T. Troy Dixon ’93 gives athletics something to cheer about
By Rebecca Smith ’99
Worcester weather can be changeable, unpredictable and, sometimes, downright miserable—and these conditions can impede the performance of the College’s athletic teams.
Specifically, inclement weather can negatively affect Crusader football and the men’s and women’s lacrosse teams. When rain falls on the natural grass field where these teams practice, the playing surface becomes muddy, slippery and dangerous. As a result, it is difficult for the players to run accurate plays, and they can find themselves at a disadvantage on game day.
“In our climate, it’s very difficult to rely on natural grass surfaces for athletic play,” explains Athletic Director Richard Regan ’76. “A couple days of rain can ruin a team’s preparation for a game.”
Former Crusader free safety T. Troy Dixon ’93 remembers all too well those messy, wet football practices and their detrimental impact on his team’s Saturday performances. So, when it came time for him to make a substantial gift to Holy Cross, Dixon was easily convinced to direct his funds toward a new field.
A native of Queens, N.Y., Dixon was recruited by Holy Cross to play football. He was attracted to the College by its unique blend of high-quality football and high-caliber academics, taught in a small-class setting. During his first visit, he was impressed by the campus atmosphere of fellowship and community—he had not had as positive an experience at the other schools he toured.
A sociology major in the premedical program at Holy Cross, Dixon played on both the varsity football and baseball squads. Throughout his four years on the Hill, he learned the importance of teamwork and cooperation—both on and off the field.
“Holy Cross in general proved for me that there are few barriers between people if you focus on our shared goals—instead of on our differences,” explains Dixon. “And nowhere was this more true than on the football field, where a group of men—diverse in our ethnicities, backgrounds, financial statuses—came together for one common purpose: to win.”
Dixon knows a bit about removing barriers himself. At just 36 years old, he is the managing director of the mortgage-backed securities trading group at Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. in New York. In fact, he is the only African-American trader heading a fixed income trading division among major Wall Street firms.
“The sense of community fostered at Holy Cross was key to my personal growth,” he says. “It has also helped me to navigate my professional career. At bare minimum, there may seem as if there’s a big difference between me and the people I work with, but there’s a common bond if you really look for it.”
Dixon was drawn to the sales and trading profession by the dynamic and fast-moving nature of the work. He acknowledges that his athletic background gives him a competitive edge on the trading floor. And he affirms that his academic experience supplies him with the skills he needs to overcome the diverse challenges of his job.
“My liberal arts education enabled me to achieve levels of success on Wall Street that an economics, accounting or business major at another school could not have,” he explains.
A tangible gift
Dixon is giving back to the College in appreciation for the valuable lessons he learned at Holy Cross. Beyond supporting the football program that gave him so much, he expects his gift will enhance the overall student experience. By improving the Crusader athletics program, he hopes to give students something to cheer about.
A $250,000 donation toward the installation of the College’s new artificial turf field was a perfect outlet for Dixon, who was looking to make a gift that would yield a tangible product.
“I wanted to donate to something that I could touch, feel and see,” he explains.
Thanks to Dixon and others’ tremendous generosity, the Holy Cross football team will benefit from productive practices in fall—no matter what the weather. Likewise, the men’s and women’s lacrosse teams will enjoy the field in spring, when it will be used as the primary site for their practices and games.
The new field will replace the current grass playing area located behind the Hart Center. It will be made of FieldTurf, a synthetic surface that combines the properties of natural grass and the best attributes of a durable synthetic system—such as all-weather playability and low maintenance. In addition to better drainage, FieldTurf provides enhanced player safety: Athletes can slide, tackle and tumble on its specially treated fibers without fear of abrasions.
Designed to look and feel like natural grass, FieldTurf is widely used for football, soccer, baseball, rugby, lacrosse and golf on playing surfaces around the world. To date, it has been installed at 24 NFL stadiums and more than 40 NCAA venues.
Since a team’s solid execution on game day depends on clean and precise practice sessions, the installation of this field will be a giant step toward increasing the competitive standing of the Crusader football and lacrosse programs.
Rebecca Smith ’99 is a freelance writer from Auburn, Mass.