Aug. 21, 2003
The University of Tennessee athletic department announced that Dr. Keith Dressler and family of Signal Mountain, Tenn. recently made a significant commitment to UT athletics as part of STEP UP - The Campaign for UT Athletic Facilities.
"I'm a Tennessee guy through and through," he said. "My father was a UT graduate and had gone to medical school in Memphis and I followed in his footsteps. I'll do anything I can for the University. I like the fact Tennessee is in the national spotlight with their sports programs, both men and women."
STEP UP is a comprehensive capital campaign to raise $44.25 million for new, renovated and expanded facilities benefiting 17 of UT's 20 men's and women's intercollegiate teams. These improvements are designed to enable UT to continue competing for SEC and NCAA Championships in each sport. With the Dressler commitment, the University of Tennessee has now raised in excess of $43 million towards the campaign goal.
Dr. Dressler, a 1985 Memphis graduate in orthodontics now practicing in Chattanooga, will be recognized for his generosity by naming the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach's Office in his honor. He selected the strength coach's office because, as he put it, "without the strength coach, athletes couldn't perform as well. All the student-athletes would go through there. He's the one who makes the student-athletes go."
Head strength and conditioning coach Johnny Long, the gung-ho mentor for the strength program, recently took Dressler and his family through the Frank and Stella Percy Weight Room and showed him exactly how the Vols program worked.
"I wanted to tell him our story, what we did in here," Long said. "I showed his family and him around and he seemed impressed. I wanted him to see what we were doing just like the 100,000 or so who go through here every year would see. I'm honored that he's contributing in this way to our program."
Dressler, an avid tennis player, also sees the importance of conditioning in his own sport. "I was always taught that you didn't want to lose because your body failed you from poor conditioning. Being in great shape is something each athlete should strive for. I know the Tennessee athletes feel very blessed to have a coach as dynamic and caring as Johnny Long."
He credits UT trustee John Thornton with the impetus for his gift to STEP-UP. "John has always been, a leader, someone I've looked up to," he said. "It touched me how philanthropic he is and how he has given back to his community and the University. I hope to do the same thing." He added that he believed in "giving from the heart."
"It makes me feel good inside to be able to give back to the community and the institutions who helped shape who I am."
In addition to being an orthodontist, Dr. Dressler is also Chairman and CEO of the Elite Physician Services, President of Dressler Capital Investments, and serves on the board of directors for the Knoxville Credit Bureau. His wife Laura Lea volunteers at W. T. Thrasher Elementary School in Chattanooga. The Dresslers, particularly Keith's wife Laura Lea, are active in the Achieve Center in Chattanooga, a pre-school learning facility for the hearing impaired. "We try to get hearing impaired children mainstreamed by the first grade," she said. "It did wonders for our son. I believe strongly in it and enjoy being involved."
Recently, the Dresslers, including their children Denver and Aspen, took a tour of campus and a behind-the-scenes look at the athletic facilities. While in the weight room, Anthony Herrera, Victor McClure, and Parys Haralson spent a few minutes visiting with the family, sharing some weight lifting tips for young Denver.
For the Dresslers, UT athletics has always been a family activity. "Game days are so exciting," Laura Lea added. "It's a nice event to bring your family and friends to. There's just so much energy on campus. We like all the events surrounding the games, as well as the games themselves."
Dr. Dressler added that he was impressed with the involvement and commitment he saw on his visits to campus. "The University must really be doing something right for everyone to be so involved."
(For more information about Tennessee's athletics facility renovation plans or to find out about donating to the university athletics department, contact John Currie or Scott Rabenold at (865) 974-1218.)