Dec. 20, 2013
They may be gone, but their legacy will last forever.
Jim and Beth Judson, parents of The University of Southern Mississippi golfer Lauren Judson, died on October 26th, 2010, in a plane crash that shocked the entire Hattiesburg community.
Three years later, the brand new Southern Miss golf practice facility is dedicated in the Judson family name.
Julie Gallup, head coach of the Southern Miss women's golf team, knows all about the special significance behind the new Judson Family Practice Facility, not only for the present, but also for the future of Southern Miss athletics.
"This facility will allow players in the future to know about Lauren and know about her parents, their story and their generosity," said Gallup. "I'm excited that we have something that will last and that this will be something that people will always know about their contributions."
Southern Miss Director of Athletics echoed Gallup's sentiments in the addition of this new facility for the golf programs.
"What a tremendous tribute to the legacy of two incredible individuals in Jim and Beth Judson," said McGillis. "This facility and this course gives us a foundation for sustainable, long-term success. It's a championship facility that will enable us to build championship programs."
Gallup is especially excited to honor the Judsons through the dedication of the new golf practice facility in their name. She is even more proud, however, by how closely her team has come together since the accident.
"It's made our team closer. I think that a lot of times, people in the college years fixate on things that are small like inter-personal problems," explained Gallup. "I think with the enormity of what happened we have very little discord now."
A tragic event such as this is certainly a lot to handle for any college student, but Gallup is pleased with the way her team has responded.
"The kids really cherish every day and what they have," said Gallup. "They really appreciate their parents much more than they probably did before this all happened."
As a result of the Judsons' donations, the Southern Miss golf team now has a state-of-the-art new golf facility-one that should help them hone their skills and allow them to compete on a national level. Gallup is particularly excited about the plethora of training features within this new facility.
"We have a putting green that is just mainly for the team to practice short, long, breaking, straight putts," said Gallup. "There's capacity for probably fifteen people to be on that green at one time putting."
"We then have an approach that extends about 80 yards to a large green that's mainly meant for chipping and pitching," continued Gallup. "There are green-side bunkers with varying depths, and you can hit to flags that are 30 to 40 yards away. You can hit any shot out of the bunker that you need to."
"We are also utilizing the existing green that gives us a third opportunity for wedges and chipping as well," said Gallup.
Before the accident, father Jim Judson was very involved in the planning and development of this new facility. Gallup thinks Jim would be quite proud of how his visions turned out.
"I think Jim would be really impressed with what we did. I think it's probably even better than what we had envisioned," Gallup said proudly. "I don't feel like there's a shot you need to hit on the golf course that you cannot emulate on our facility. So it's something that has exceeded my expectations and probably what he had envisioned also."
Jim's contributions extended beyond just financial support; he would even fly down to Hattiesburg multiple times to sit in on meetings, to stay as hands-on as possible with the project.
"He was so involved with the planning stages of this and really dug in," explained Gallup. "He was really the catalyst to get this going. So, I know he's up there looking down and excited and proud with what we've got."
Lauren Judson has since assumed her father's role somewhat, and has made sure that the facility is as effective for her team as possible.
"Lauren wanted to make sure we had access to every kind of shot that we would need on the golf course and we were able to accomplish that," said Gallup.
With this new facility in place and the touching contributions from the Judsons, Gallup hopes her players are left with a valuable message in mind.
"[My message] for the kids is to be grateful for the people that came before them," explained Gallup. "And for the dedication that the Judsons had to our program and the vision that they had for where we can go in the future."
As the Judson Family Practice Facility begins its inaugural season, Jim and Beth Judson are sure to be gazing down upon the bright futures in store for Lauren and their beloved Southern Miss women's golf program.
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