The refurbishment was made possible by a generous donation and from attorney W.C. Gentry, who was presented with a number 12 framed jersey, signifying the 12th man of the team.
“I’m really proud I could help with this,’’ Gentry told the team. “I owe a lot to JU, it was very good to me and I am happy to help out. When Coach (Kerwin) Bell told me about your locker room, I said ’this is something we want to do’ because you are a championship team. You guys are champions and you need to be treated like champions.''
Some returning players gasped as they viewed the new carpet, re-stained lockers (complete with name tags attached), a new projection system with a pair of screens and heard a new sound system.
Championship posters, designed by graphics specialist Daniel Scott, are the centerpiece of the new locker room as Scott’s work adorns several walls at the front of the area.
“Our kids have done a lot,’’ Bell said. “They have risen to a level not many thought they could reach and this is a small thank you back.’’
Bell said the upgraded facility is another step in the team’s plan to become a championship program.
“We’re not going to be a championship team, we want to be a championship program and there’s not many of those in the country,’’ he said. “With this facility upgrade by Mr. W.C. Gentry, we want to give back to you and show you what we think of you as a team and as people.’’
Gentry told the players he played a year in college and regrets he didn’t play longer.
“This is one of the best times of your lives,’’ he said. “The work you do here, the character you build here and the friends you make here will last a lifetime. Except for my family, my fondest, best memories I have are from football.’’
Linebacker Blythe Weaver, a sophomore, clearly was excited by the new digs as he entered the locker room.
“This is great,’’ he said. “But I had to retain my composure.’’
- Jim Nasella