Golden Hurricane Club Raises Funds for Student-Athletes
By D. FORREST CAMERON
Editor and Publisher
GOAL SEEKER: Joe DeBerry enjoys his position as director of the Golden Hurricane Club, where he helps TU raise funds for student-athletes.
Jerry L. Cornelius for GTR Newspapers
While summer approaches and college sports programs wind down across the nation, behind-the-scenes work continues to keep the student-athletes on the playing fields. Much of this work comes from college sports booster clubs that strive to raise funds for the student-athletes to achieve success both on and off the field.
Joe DeBerry is the enthusiastic director of the University of Tulsa’s Golden Hurricane Club, which is in the midst of this year’s fund drive that culminates on May 31.
DeBerry has a strong sports background. His father is Fisher DeBerry, the long-time head football coach of the Air Force Academy who has enjoyed 17 winning seasons and 12 bowl titles.
Joe DeBerry was born in South Carolina and moved to Colorado Springs in 1979 when his father, who had coached at Wofford and Appalachian State, joined the football staff of Ken Hatfield, then the head coach at Air Force.
Joe played football and baseball in high school in Colorado Springs and accepted a scholarship to play baseball at Clemson. He majored in Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management, saying, “I wanted to live on an island and run a hotel.”
That wish didn’t come true, as the first baseman was drafted into the Cincinnati Reds organization, spending six years in the minor leagues. In 1992, DeBerry was involved in a well-known trade that sent him and Paul O’Neill to the New York Yankees organization for Roberto Kelly.
After playing in towns such as Billings, Cedar Rapids, Albany, Norwich, Columbus, Greensboro, Tampa, Stockton and Wichita, he hung up his cleats in 1997 and started a clothing company in Colorado Springs with a former Yankee organization teammate, Roger Burnett. The company went public in 1998 and was sold in 2001.
After another business venture, DeBerry, who by this time had married Lori, who he met in Denver, was looking for somewhat of a rural environment to settle down. Burnett, the former business partner and teammate, was from Broken Arrow and suggested the DeBerry’s look at land in northeastern Oklahoma. The couple found a place between Mannford and Bristow. DeBerry began teaching baseball skills at the All-Star Sports Academy in Tulsa.
In early 2005, the directorship of the Golden Hurricane Club came open when Mike Dodson accepted a position at the Tulsa Sports Commission.
DeBerry says he wanted the position very much and was hired by then athletic director Judy MacLeod in January 2006. He says, “I love this position. It has given me the opportunity to be here in the community. I firmly believe athletics helps build character and shape the lives of our student athletes. I get excited when I meet the fans; it’s awesome and a wonderful opportunity.” DeBerry says he wants to continue his career in athletic administration, where he can combine his knowledge of business, administration and athletics.
DeBerry explains that the goal of the Hurricane Club is to raise over $2 million every year for TU student athletes. He says that the success of the 2005 football team has been very positive. He comments, “We have had a lot of good carry over from the team. I commend Coach Kragthorpe for the job he has done.” DeBerry is also proud of TU student-athletes who help in the fund drive by making telephone calls to fans.
Funds raised from the Hurricane Club drive help the academics of the student-athletes, including tutoring and study hall. Funds are also used for training room needs, team travel and recruiting for coaches.
DeBerry says that Hurricane Club memberships range from $50 to over $20,000, with fans benefiting from fellowship while providing resources for over 300 student-athletes. He also mentions that:
• A men’s basketball seat donation is a donation to and a membership in the Golden Hurricane Club.
• A GHC donation/seat donation may be pledged in the spring and a payment plan set up.
• A GHC donation is tax deductible.
• A GHC membership is one calendar year (Jan. 1 – Dec. 31) and the best time to join is in the spring.
•A GHC membership gives fans access to the pre-game meals for football and basketball.
• Parking passes are also included in the membership.
The Golden Hurricane Club is positioned in the TU athletic department with DeBerry reporting to Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham. Karla Campbell serves as the assistant director, and Barbette Veit serves as the administrative assistant.
A board of directors gives input. Harry Willis is the current president, and Jim King is the president-elect.
For more information, call (918) 631-2342, or see www.tulsahurricane.com.