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R Big Ten Building Blocks: The Broggi Family

The steel structure swiftly rising out of the ground outside the Southwest walls of the RAC – soon to be known as the RWJBarnabas Health Athletic Performance Center – is a powerful metaphor for the state of Rutgers Athletics. Each beam and cornerstone at the core of the 295,000-square-foot, four-story facility represents the true foundation of Rutgers' Big Ten Build: the people behind the gifts that make it all happen. The Broggi's, John V. '67 and Barbara, are a Rutgers family through and through. Two of their children are proud owners of Rutgers degrees, while a grandson is currently working toward one. They are season ticket holders for football, men's and women's basketball, and most recently, wrestling. One of their previous donations to support a study room in the Hale Center combined John's love for his alma mater and Barbara's career as an educator. John and Barbara believe that the burgeoning building in Piscataway is the most impactful development during this new era of Rutgers Athletics. As prominent members of the community's lifeblood and two of the most loyal Rutgers women's basketball fans on earth, they sought out an opportunity to donate to the project and honor someone whom has made a profound impact on their lives. There was only one person who fit that bill. . . . It was late in the evening on April 17 a few years back. John was winding down from a happy birthday, and had one more voicemail to listen to before heading to bed. The recording on his phone played an instantly recognizable voice, which proceeded to sing the entire "Happy Birthday Song" and wish John well on his special day. It may have been a small notion, but that voicemail from C. Vivian Stringer, the head coach of their favorite team, left a lasting mark on John and Barbara. "We've saved it all these years," Barbara said. "Those are the kinds of things that make a lifelong impression. That's the kind of person she is." The Women's Basketball Hall of Fame inductee and owner of nearly 1,000 career victories, Coach Stringer has many talents. Perhaps singing is not one of them, but fostering relationships in the basketball community certainly is. She has created a culture of mutual respect with each of her players, their families and the fans over her legendary career. This trait is what turned John Broggi from a casual fan to a diehard devotee to Stringer's brand of basketball. "I learned shortly after I started following basketball just how well-known and how well-respected she is," John said. "And then in 2007 after the National Championship game against Tennessee, they came back to campus and heard the statement that Don Imus had made. The classy way in which it was handled by her, the team and the university was unbelievable. Seeing the way all of her former players come back to support the team, I don't know anyone who played for her that doesn't have the utmost respect for her. You can see the admiration they all have for her, and someone like her deserves it." When the ribbon is cut on the RWJBarnabas Health Athletic Performance in 2019, the current crop of Scarlet Knights and the next generation of blue-chip recruits will visit the program's pioneer at the C. Vivian Stringer Head Coach's Office in the newly-minted hallways of Rutgers' latest beacon of success. . . . The Broggi's first became fans of the game when their son's friend played at Temple and they attended a few of her games. Living just a mile down the road from the RAC, Rutgers became the team to follow. In 2001, Stringer led the Scarlet Knights to one of its iconic victories on their home hardwood, a 54-53 win against previously-unbeaten and eventual national champion Notre Dame. The Broggi's were hooked. The family promptly became season ticket holders and have rarely missed a single game since, home or away. John began traveling with the team, including yearly trips to Hartford for the BIG EAST Tournament and the historic trek to the 2007 Final Four in Cleveland. On the road is where the passion was born, as his home away from home became the place where the bonds were formed with the players and the families. "I had four wonderful years as a student at Rutgers," said John, who went on to build successful careers in life insurance and sports memorabilia industry. "As we're retired now, the support of the team is something Barbara and I enjoy doing together. Traveling with the team and seeing the team recognize that you're there for them, it's wonderful. The student-athletes make the sport so much fun to follow and that's what led us to donate, rather than donate and then feel obligated to go." Barbara was a late-comer to the world of athletics. One weekend, when her husband and grandson were on a trip with the Scarlet Knights to Spokane, Washington, she was suddenly encouraged to retire from her second job at Rutgers' Graduate School for Education. "John sent me pictures and it made me say, 'Wait! Why am I here working and they're out there having all the fun?" Barbara recalled. "It was fun to start doing something with John again. It quickly became our passion." According to the Highland Park natives, that's what sets Rutgers fans apart. It's the intensity, the pride and the passion that will fuel this relentless pursuit of excellence. The Broggi's bought in, both literally and metaphorically. "Pat Hobbs says it all the time," John echoes. "'We are going to enjoy our success at the Big Ten level because we have never been given the opportunity to excel on such a big stage.' We were there for the men's basketball team's first Big Ten road win at Penn State, and we were in Indianapolis for the women's Big Ten Tournament. We're here for the rise and hopefully next we'll be there for the first Big Ten Championship." John and Barbara Broggi are proud to be a part of the rise. As soon as blueprints were produced and renderings were published for the APC, they jumped at the opportunity to support the construction. "It's a game-changer for the university," John said. "It's something we can show off, and it will provide the team with everything they need to compete in the Big Ten. There were a number of sponsorship opportunities, but we immediately knew we wanted to honor someone while supporting the build." That someone is a woman described by John and Barbara as the Matriarch of the Rutgers women's basketball family, an ever-growing and vibrant community. It's a family that welcomed the Broggi's with open arms, and one that has impacted generations of young women that have gone on to succeed in business, professional basketball, and in starting families of their own. For every future member of that family, the namesake of the Rutgers women's basketball head coach's office will offer a steadfast reminder that C. Vivian Stringer is at the heart of the culture that positively affected so many lives and the game that brought them all together. R Rutgers is committed to building championship contenders in the Big Ten. This commitment means the university must build premier training facilities for elite student-athletes from New Jersey, the nation, and around the globe.

To fulfill this objective, Rutgers Athletics is embarking on the R Big Ten Build, a comprehensive campaign to raise $100 million for new or upgraded athletic facilities. Since its launch in January of 2016, the campaign has brought in four of the largest gifts ever made in Rutgers Athletics history led by a strategic partnership with RWJBarnabas Health. Through this partnership, the first of three facilities will be the RWJBarnabas Health Athletic Performance Center, which broke ground on November 1, 2017. RWJBarnabas becomes the exclusive health care provider for Rutgers University and Rutgers Athletics. R Fund is Rutgers Athletic's annual giving program. Its goal is to provide student-athletes with the support they need to reach their full potential; as students, as athletes, and as individuals. The financial contributions of our donors help R Fund advance the mission of Rutgers Athletics and give our student-athletes the resources they need to compete.

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