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December 16, 2013

'Bowl Fever': Gamecock Club Chair Looks Forward to Orlando on Jan. 1

For more than 10 years, Chip Comer, ’83, of Rock Hill, S.C., has served as Chair of the Gamecock Club Board of Directors and President of the York County Gamecock Club. He and his wife, Judy, who have given substantial gifts to Athletics over the years for unrestricted use, are looking forward to attending the Capital One Bowl Jan. 1 in Orlando.

Gamecock football fans have received a ticket allotment of 12,500 tickets.

"Judy and I always have bowl fever this time of year and we greatly look forward to spending New Year's Eve and Day in Orlando, cheering our Gamecocks on in the Capital One Bowl,” Comer said. “We have attended the Capital One Bowl before and always enjoy our time spent at events uniting Gamecock Club members and all Carolina alumni at the game. Wisconsin is a worthy opponent, so this will be one of the best bowl match-ups this season in our opinion."

caption: Chip and Judy Comer enjoy the season's opening game, a home victory over North Carolina.Comer’s longevity in roles as both Gamecock Club Chair and York County Gamecock Club President speak amazingly well for the Carolina business administration graduate and Vice President of Comer Distributing Co. in Rock Hill, a family-owned wholesale beer distributor. Supported in his passion for all things Gamecock by his wife, Judy, and sons Creighton and Lee, Comer’s friendly, focused professionalism places him in one of Athletics’ most important leadership roles.

Comer has been on the forefront of decision-making that led to Athletics Master Plan initiation in 2006, the results of which are new facilities raising Gamecock SEC and national championship aspirations in nearly 20 intercollegiate sports. He has affirmed his years of Gamecock Club service with a substantial Comer Family commitment in the form of unrestricted gifts benefiting Athletics’ Garnet Way capital campaign, part of the University’s $1 billion Carolina’s Promise campaign. Their gifts have allowed Athletics to put Comer family generosity to immediate use where it is needed most.

Asked what he enjoys most about being Gamecock Club chair, Comer said, “I love this University and being part of its success. So knowing what’s happening in advance within Gamecock Athletics, and being part of the positive changes from start to finish, makes it all worthwhile.”

Comer referenced football’s seat donation program in acknowledging that not all decisions he has been a part of were popular—at least not at first—offering, “If you don’t change in this conference, you’re a sitting duck. You won’t be competitive. You have to be constantly looking to change and improve, and that means generating revenue. Even the addition of locker rooms in any sport affects a student-athlete’s decision to choose Carolina.”

From Gamecock baseball’s Carolina Stadium completed in 2006—to the new Farmers Market that opened last fall to boost football fans’ pre-game experiences—Comer is pleased that the Garnet Way capital campaign continues to produce state-of-the-art facilities well on its way toward a $200 million goal. The “Dodie,” as athletics’ academic enrichment center is fondly referred, “shows parents of student-athletes that they are going to be taken care of when they come here,” he said.

Comer is proud of loyal Gamecock alumni and friends, who are the reason the Gamecock Club has reached more than 16,000 members for the first time in school history. There are currently 47 local chapters throughout South Carolina and an additional 16 out-of-state chapters that span from Houston, Texas, to New York, N.Y.

All Gamecock Club chapters help raise funds for Athletics by sponsoring local events in their areas, such as the York County Gamecock Club’s August cookout. Attended by 225 people, it raised more than $5,000 in a few hours. Each chapter is assigned a sport to fund raise for, with York County’s being soccer. “This gives each of our clubs a little bit of ownership over their sport’s success,” he said.

Comer said it was an honor to have Athletics Director Ray Tanner attend the cookout on short notice. Added Judy Comer, “He really is such a peoples’ Athletics Director, which makes him a popular guy. Ray is at home when spending time with Gamecock fans.”

Where popularity goes, Comer is always working to extend the reach of his family’s wholesale beer operations founded in 1971 by his father, 86-year-old company President H. Leon Comer Sr. Chip has worked at Comer Distributing since the age of 11. Just last year, he drove a refrigerated truck into Gamecock country to signify business expansion into Richland and Lexington counties through sale of popular craft brews. “I get to meet some neat personalities in the territories we cover,” he said.

Son Creighton worked for the family business over the summer and will attend USC in the fall. Older son Lee served in the Marines and now works for Comer Distributing.

Judy, who earned an MBA at Winthrop, also possesses business savvy. Organizing an away-game trip each football season, she’s equally responsible for York County Gamecock Club enthusiasm. This season’s excursion involves renting a 57-passenger bus for a trek to Athens, Ga., and the Georgia game. Included will be a “tailgate meal” in Greenville. One year, she chartered three planes to New Orleans, and then four buses for an away game at LSU.

“It’s worth every bit of the effort when our Gamecocks take the opponents’ field to the cheers of our York County faithful,” she said.
–Larry Di Giovanni, Development Communications