Thomas G. Slater, Jr. '66

Training in VMI Athletics Is Training for Life

Tom Slater’s Success Originates with VMI Football


From the time he was 6 or 7 years old, Tom Slater ’66 accompanied his father, Thomas G. Slater ’32, to VMI football games. Later, he donned helmet and pads himself, playing fullback and linebacker under legendary coach John McKenna.

'The three-legged stool is what VMI is all about. I want to see us attract top young people to participate in athletics at VMI.'

Tom Slater ’66

More than three decades later, Slater’s son, Tom Slater III ’90, coached the Keydet baseball team. He’s now hitting coordinator for the New York Yankees.

Not surprisingly, Slater is a passionate supporter of VMI athletics.

 “You couldn’t ask for a better character builder than John McKenna,” said Slater, who served as co-captain of the team his 1st Class year.

Under McKenna’s leadership in the 1950s and 1960s, the VMI football team won four Southern Conference championships and five state championships and had six successive winning seasons.

Slater believes that athletics develop much more than physical fitness. “They develop good social skills and good work habits,” he said.

Slater’s interest in athletics comes not only from the benefits he believes sports provide, but also from his belief in the “three-legged stool” of academics, athletics, and military training that comprise the VMI experience.

“The three-legged stool is what VMI is all about,” said Slater. “I want to see us attract top young people to participate in athletics at VMI,” he said.

Slater credits the training sports gave him for his career success as an attorney with Hunton & Williams in Richmond.

“VMI stands for something,” said Slater. “You’ve got responsibilities 24/7. … Honor, duty, integrity are drilled into all of us.”