Passion Leads Safrits to Leave a Legacy at Clemson
For Lee and Amy Safrit, it’s all about passion. It was a quality that Amy recognized in a young assistant football coach named Dabo Swinney the first time she met him at a ladies clinic at Clemson in 2006. Amy couldn’t quite pronounce his name, but Lee recalls her coming home and telling him confidently, “He ought to be our head coach.”
Swinney did become the head coach at Clemson a few years later, of course, and the trademark enthusiasm that Amy quickly spotted has led the Tigers to three
straight seasons of at least 10 wins for the first time in school history.
“I think it’s a testament to how she perceived his personality and his passion for Clemson University and his caring for his players,” Lee said.
It takes one to know one, the saying goes, and Amy was able to recognize Swinney’s passion because it is a quality she possesses herself. Her passion is nursing. Amy had worked as a registered nurse in cardiovascular intensive care for years by the time she went back to school and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Clemson with her bachelor’s degree in nursing in 2007. She is currently working on her master’s degree in order to put her experience as a nurse to even better use.
“To be able to sit there with somebody’s heart in your hands takes a special person,” Lee said.
Much like his wife, Lee knew what he wanted to do with his life long before he ever actually did it. Lee wanted to travel and he wanted to work in business. He graduated from Clemson in 1994 with a degree in marketing, and these days he serves as Midwest Regional Manager in sales for Anderson Hardwood Floors.
“I absolutely love what I do now,” Lee said. “Finally I have a position that just doesn’t stress me out so much.”
Lee spent the majority of his career climbing the corporate ladder, serving as Brand Manager for Anderson at one point, but now has settled into a position that allowed him to move back to the Clemson area and have time at home with Amy. That has allowed the couple, who met through mutual friends in 2005 and married four years
later, to spend as much time as they possibly can doing what they love – rooting for the Tigers.
“As long as we’re not out of town or working, we go to every event,” Lee said. “We usually go to two or three away games each football season and bowl games, too.”
Lee began coming to Clemson football and basketball games when he was four years old with people from his church in Greenville, S.C., who attended Clemson and were IPTAY donors.
“I became a Tiger really early, and I knew this is where I wanted to go to school,” Lee said.
Amy didn’t have the benefit of being indoctrinated into the Clemson family. In fact, she had to go against the tide in her own household. Growing up in a family of
University of South Carolina fans in Spartanburg, S.C., Amy saw the Tigers win the 1981 National Championship in the Orange Bowl and was hooked.
“I was always a Clemson fan since I was small,” Amy said.
Since they became a couple, one of the Safrits’ favorite pastimes has been attending Clemson sporting events. They have season tickets for football, basketball and baseball, and try to attend as many ancillary events as possible, such as Dabo’s All-In Ball and the Dabo Swinney Ladies Clinic. The Safrits also support the Tigers in Olympic sports.
When a Clemson team beats South Carolina, Lee makes a donation through the Clemson Fund in honor of that team’s head coach.
“I did it for (head volleyball coach) Jolene Hoover when they beat South Carolina; I did it for the tennis coach,” Lee said. “It’s important. You want to beat your rival.”
And Lee and Amy have made arrangements to make sure their support for Clemson continues long after they are gone.
“Our true connection, where we would like to leave our legacy, is with Clemson,” Lee said. “We know that without the support and without the funds, you don’t grow. And we want to lead by example.”
With no children and a passion for Clemson University, the Safrits have bequeathed their estate to support that passion through IPTAY’s Planned Giving department.
“The whole reason we’re doing what we’re doing is because we appreciate this university; we appreciate the athletics,” Lee said. “That gives us happiness. We are
fans, sometimes fanatics. It’s so important to us. We live it and breathe it every day.”
And that’s what true passion is all about.