Beverly Knox was present when the Brandon Swim and Tennis Club opened its doors 50 years ago. Her history in the area is inextricably linked with the athletic facility.
“This was the only place in the area that had tennis courts,” said Knox, who played frequently with her late husband, Bill. The couple moved to Brandon from Lake Wales in 1963, the same year the club opened. “Before that, we used to have to drive out to Davis Islands.”
The Brandon Sports and Aquatics Center — the name change took effect in 2004 to better reflect its growing sports and community interests, as well as its new non-profit status — celebrated its golden anniversary on April 20. George Greenwell and his wife Shirley opened the private club in May 1963, and served as its leaders for 40 years.
The festivities honored the center’s past, celebrated its current athletes’ excellence and took time to look ahead to the future. The day included a commemoration ceremony, sports demonstrations and an open house highlighting the facility’s upcoming summer camp.
Knox, 82, was one of several charter members — along with Ted Pitts, Marie Wood and the Noriega family — who were recognized for their long-time association with the club.
“I appreciate everything this club has meant to my family,” said Knox, who still swims at the aquatics center up to three times a week.
The center serves more than 800 children each day through its various sports, early childhood, and after-school programs, according to executive director Chuck Burgess. Burgess has noticed a change in the community’s perception toward the center.
“Since I’ve been here, I think people in the community have started to see all the things we do besides sports,” said Burgess.
The center hosts educational programs and community outreach efforts and in January, it opened an Academic Enrichment Center. The facility has been at the forefront of water safety education and provides youth initiatives through the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.
“Our mission is to impact people on a daily basis,” Burgess said.
The 12-acre facility includes a 50-meter competition pool, 10 tennis courts, a smaller teaching pool, a fitness room, a playground, and more. Memberships are available for a monthly fee but are not required to use the facility. Memberships costs $70 per month for families and $55 per month for individuals. Discounts are available for seniors, teens, college students, members of the military, government employees and teachers.
Other programs, such as the center’s Blue Wave Swim Team, are fee-based.
Over the years, the team has produced several Olympic athletes, including three-time gold medal swimmer Brooke Bennett (1996 and 2000 Summer Games) and silver medal swimmer Maritza Correia (2004).
County Commissioner Al Higginbotham spoke during the commemoration ceremony, emphasizing the role aquatics-based programs play in physical therapy.
“It’s what a lot of people use to train and learn how to walk again,” he said. “This center has been a staple in the Brandon community, and I commend their efforts in providing cutting-edge services while remaining a non-profit organization.”
Burgess also took the opportunity to formally announce a new partnership between the center and the Brandon-based Saladino Baseball Academy. The aquatics center is in the process of adding baseball and soccer fields, and the partnership is in line with a new emphasis on team sports, which also includes the upcoming Strikers Pride Soccer club.
“We appreciate all the trust you have put into us throughout the years,” he said.
For information on BSAC and its programs, including the upcoming summer camp, call (813) 689-0908 or visit www.mybsac.org