Cafaro’s $1M donation carries YSU drive for indoor training site near finish line from Cafaro



An indoor athletic training facility being built on the north side of Youngstown State University’s campus has received a major financial boost.

The Cafaro Foundation has pledged $1 million to help complete the financing of the $11.4 million project, scheduled to be finished by the end of this year.

The track and lobby of the Watson and Tressel Training Site (WATTS Center) will be named in honor of the Cafaro family.

The pledge brings the family contributions to the university to nearly $2.5 million. That includes a $1 million gift to name Cafaro House residence hall in the mid-1990s, a $250,000 gift in 2003 to help build the Andrew Student Recreation and Wellness Center and $100,000 to the university’s nursing program to name the Betty Nohra Student Resource Center in 2007.

“My father was always a strong, but quiet supporter of higher learning in his hometown,” said Anthony Cafaro Sr., a 1968 YSU graduate, retired president of The Cafaro Co. and son of company founder William A. Cafaro. Anthony Cafaro Sr. was on campus Tuesday to make the presentation.

“Once again, the Cafaro family stepped forward,’ said Cynthia E. Anderson, YSU president.

She noted the good news came just three days into her new job as head of the university.

The Cafaro family has supported the Valley in good and not-so-good times and have remained here when they could have moved their business elsewhere, she said.

Anthony Cafaro Sr. said the family made the gift for four reasons:

First, to give a positive kick-off to the term of President Anderson.

Second, to respond to the persistence of Scott Schulick, chairman of the YSU Board of Trustees, and Paul McFadden, YSU chief development officer.

Third, to mark the arrival of new football coach Eric Wolford, and his staff, who deserve strong support.

Fourth, to show admiration and respect for the Watson and Tressel families.

The WATTS Center is named after former YSU football coach Jim Tressel and his wife, Ellen, as well as her parents, Frank and Norma Watson. The Tressels and Watsons donated a combined $1 million to launch the training site fundraising.

“The future looks bright. We have a proud past. ... We have a promising future,” Wolford said, thanking Cafaro for his family’s generosity.

The center will be a training facility for all university athletics, not just the football program.Tressel, now head football coach at Ohio State University, attended the presentation and lauded the Cafaro family which he said hasn’t just talked about its love for the university but has lived it.

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