Mike Hamrick (10)
HUNTINGTON – It’s a week of great ceremonies for Marshall University athletics.
The first one is about our storied past, where we’ve come from.
The second one is all about the future, where we are going.
On Wednesday of this week, the annual Memorial Fountain Ceremony remembering the Nov. 14, 1970 football team plane crash and its 75 victims was at the Memorial Student Center Plaza.
The commemorative event brought to campus the brothers of New Jersey kicker Marcelo Lajterman, who was killed in the tragedy, and Mo Lajterman was the featured speaker at the ceremony.
There was also a representative from Tuscaloosa, Ala., which lost four Herd players from Druid High School on that sad night 42 years ago.
And while we will never forget those men and women who perished in the crash and their loss is woven into the fabric of our university and Herd athletics, we also move forward.
On Friday at 2 p.m., at the site of the former Veterans Memorial Field House, we will have the formal groundbreaking for our new soccer complex that is part of the facilities enhancement funded by the ongoing — and crucial — Vision Campaign.
It will be a special day, too.
All Herd fans will then begin to see the honest-to-goodness progress on the new facilities.
The soccer complex construction will be followed by our indoor practice and 6-lane track and field facility, a sports medicine research and treatment center, an academic enhancement center and MU Athletics Hall of Fame.
I am hoping that the construction that follows in the weeks and months after the groundbreaking will spur more fervor and participation in the Vision Campaign, which is raising $19 million in private funding toward a total of $30 million for these projects.
That groundbreaking at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 26th Street is going to be a big day for more than our men’s and women’s soccer programs.
It will be an event that begins to fuel more pride in our entire athletic program and our university.
It also will excite soccer enthusiasts in the Tri-State — and across West Virginia, really — as our area and state get a new facility that can and will be used by more teams than the Herd.
Just one example of that is the return of the U.S. Youth Soccer regionals to the Huntington region in the summers of 2015 and 2016. Nine months from now, the Herd will be moving into its $6 million soccer complex.
Our student-athletes and coaches will go from a difficult 2012 season of playing on the road to one of the nation’s finest major college facilities for the sport.
At the same time — similar to the Memorial Fountain Commemorative ceremony — our soccer complex will honor those who have died in wartime with the words “Veterans Memorial” in the official complex name.
The Field House is gone, but those it memorialized will still be honored.
Next August, what will be there when you come to a Herd soccer match? The complex will have permanent seating for 1,000, with the potential for an additional 750 temporary seats.
The use of chair back seats or back rest rows for bench seating will be determined by the eventual costs and the complex budget. A turf playing field will measure 120 by 75 yards.
There will be locker rooms for both the men’s and women’s teams. There will be an equipment room, and training room for both, a visiting team locker room, an officials’ locker room. It will be a selfsufficient facility.
All of the Marshall soccer operations will be down there.
The Herd men’s and women’s soccer offices will move out of the Henderson Center and into the new complex. There will be separate offices for head coaches and assistant coaches, plus a large meeting room for both teams to use. That’s the ground level. Upstairs, there will be booths for home and visiting team radio broadcasts, a working press area, public address booth and a film room.
There will be on-site parking and an adjacent half-acre park dedicated to veterans.
The sculpture and frieze that overlooked Fifth Avenue from that side of the Field House was carefully removed, saved, put into storage and will be remounted on the soccer facility.
ERECTED 1950 A.D. DEDICATED TO THOSE WHO GAVE IN FREEDOM’S CAUSE. THE LAST FULL MEASURE OF DEVOTION. 1917-18. 1941-45.
There also will be a naming of the field in future months to honor a major supporter for the project. In that regard, I want to offer a major “thank you” to local businessman (and former Herd soccer coach) Sam Hood, who stepped forward in a big way when our soccer programs needed a home next to Edwards Stadium, and provided funding for our former field at what will become part of the footprint for our wonderful indoor facility.
Sam played a big role in helping our men’s soccer program make needed advancements back in the mid-1990s, and all Herd fans and soccer supporters should appreciate that.
The soccer complex will elevate the sport here at Marshall, as well as in the Tri-State.
I am hoping that once the facility begins to rise from the site, it will spur more of our supporters to become involved in the Vision Campaign.
The complex is a big step for us, but it is only the first of many we want and need to take to keep our athletic program competitive in Conference USA and nationally.
This past summer, longtime Herd men’s soccer Coach Bob Gray — he’s ranked among the top 10 coaches all-time in major college wins — was asked about getting a new home for his sport.
“To be honest, no, I never thought I’d see this in my lifetime, like I tell people,” Coach Gray said. “When Mike Hamrick told me they were going to build a soccer complex, I had to look at the calendar to make sure it wasn’t April 1st and he was joking.
“Then when he said they also were building an indoor facility, too, hey, it’s a win-win for all of our programs.”
He’s right, but it’s going to take more than us turning over a few shovels of dirt on Friday to get where we really want to go.
I don’t need an optometrist to tell me our vision needs to be as farsighted as possible.
A great soccer complex is just a good first kick.
LET’S GO HERD!
HUNTINGTON — It’s tipoff time!!
The Thundering Herd football team is still pointing toward a bowl appearance, and our men’s soccer team was in the Conference USA Tournament this week, but a good portion of the focus here on campus has turned to basketball … and rightfully so.
While Coach Doc Holliday’s team goes to UAB for another important Conference USA date Saturday at Legion Field, our two basketball programs opens their 2012-13 seasons on Friday at the Cam Henderson Center, where the fan-comfort improvements continued this offseason.
The women’s team makes its debut under new Coach Matt Daniel at noon Friday against Radford. That night, at 7:30, Coach Tom Herrion starts his third season in charge of the Herd men against another Big South team, Longwood.
Sandwiched between those is a 4 p.m. volleyball match with the Herd facing Tulane.
Speaking of sandwich, you can go downtown and squeeze a meal or two in there somewhere while making mostly a day of it at “The Cam,” right?
It seems there are a lot more Herd supporters besides our athletic staff and me that are primed for basketball. Our reserved seat season tickets for men’s hoops have been sold out for a couple of weeks now. You can, however, but a season package for general admission seats for $100. That’s a great deal.
We sold 4,010 season tickets last year, the most since 1995-96. We’re right at that number again, and there are some fans who always like to “wait and see” before they buy. We know that. I’m comfortable saying we’ll sell about 4,200 to 4,300 season seats this season.
One reason I say that isn’t just our team, which Coach Herrion feel has a shot at the Herd’s first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1987. Another reason is that we have continued to make upgrades in the Henderson Center to help fans enjoy the games … and thereby help fill the arena and cheer on the Herd.
The fan experience will be enhanced this season with the $465,000 in upgrades we made to the public address system and the installation of air flow handling units to cool the arena. Herd Heaven will really be that. The only thing that should be hot is our team. Those improvements will make a major difference to you ticket buyers.
In addition, the sound system upgrade came with another perk. Now, when you go to the concession stands or restroom or just get up briefly to maybe check out the MU Athletics Hall of Fame photos, you will still be able to keep track of the game. Our Thundering Herd/ IMG Sports Network broadcast will be piped onto the concourse, too. So, you can buy a hot dog and still hear Steve Cotton’s call. Now, there’s a deal!
We have made a great effort to improve thezfan experience in the Henderson Center in recent years with the pregame video, lights-out introductions and those green glow sticks. Fans have taken to that time just before tipoff with great fervor.
I’m glad about that. I’ve always wanted Marshall basketball to be more than a game. I wanted it to also be about entertainment … and our marketing folks have delivered.
We have made more than $2.1 million Henderson Center renovations in the last three years. Coach Herrion has renovated the men’s program, and Coach Daniel is bringing a new pizazz to our
women’s program, which had stagnated. From Central Arkansas, he has brought his House of Higher Hoops.
Well, it’s now the Herd House of Higher Hoops. It’s going to take him some time to get his MU program where he wants it, but there is little question the enthusiasm he and his staff have – and their hustling recruiting effort – will pay dividends.
Coach Herrion has a team with plenty of talent. It’s the biggest team in Conference USA. The non-conference schedule is strong … again.
Most college basketball forecasters predict the Herd will challenge perennial C-USA power Memphis for the league title.
Last season, we sold our most men’s basketball season tickets(4,010) since 1995-96. Marshall made its first NIT appearance since 1988, a big step for Coach Herrion’s program. We went 21-14 and reached the Conference USA championship game for the first time. We played in the NIT for the first time since 1988.
Kentucky, Cincinnati (in Charleston), Villanova, West Virginia (in Charleston), Ohio, Nevada (home), South Dakota State … all quality foes for Coach Herrion’s team. He has rekindled our longtime rivalry with neighboring Morehead State, too. The Eagles visit the Henderson Center Nov. 28.
I’d like to see a big opening-day welcome for our teams on Friday afternoon and night. It would be an exciting way to kick off what should be a thrilling winter. If you can be there, great. If you can come back, even better.
# # #
Finally, if there ever were a day when the Herd’s need for an indoor practice facility was underscored, it was last Tuesday (Oct. 30), when the remnants of Hurricane Sandy and a cold front clashed to bring, snow, rain, wind slush – everything except sunshine – to Huntington. This is why we’re pushing hard on the Vision Campaign to fund that indoor facility, an academic center, sports medicine research center and home for our Hall of Fame. We need that to catch up to our Conference USA peers. And once we get there, we will have among the best of those facilities in the country.
Our student-athletes shouldn’t have to run through slush on their way to success. And if you wondered why I’ve been spending so much time and effort on the Vision Campaign, all you had to do was look out the Shewey Building into a soggy Edwards Stadium on that very messy day last week.
LET’S GO HERD !!
HUNTINGTON — I am big on family reunions. With apologies to Sister Sledge and the Pittsburgh Pirates, who used “We Are Family” as a theme song in 1979 back during my days as a Marshall studentathlete, those of us here are family, too.
Since a return to my alma mater as athletic director more than three years ago, one of my primary goals and a major emphasis has been to get more of our former student-athletes back on campus, and get them involved with the M Club.
That is one way for us – as family – to support what brought us together, what cemented that relationship … Marshall University. In athletics, our “family” organization is the M Club, and all of our former athletes, managers, cheerleaders, Marcos, etc., need to support the Herd through the club, which has grown significantly in membership in recent years.
Anyone who knows me – or has heard me speak to groups in the last year – knows that our commitment to getting former athletes (like me) involved is right up there with the drive for the Vision Campaign, which will fund needed new facilities that will aid and enhance all of our sports programs.
One of my personal efforts in getting former student-athletes back “home” comes each year for our Homecoming game, when me and my wife, Soletta, entertain my former football teammates at our home. It was a special night for us again this season.
Last weekend, we had another great gathering of former studentathletes. More than 50 players from the 1992 Division I-AA national championship football team came back for a 20th anniversary reunion. It brought back lots of memories of Marshall’s first NCAA title team.
I was the athletic director at Arkansas-Little Rock back then, and we didn’t have a football program at UALR. So, I spent a lot of Saturdays trying to find the Herd on TV, or keep up with the score as best as I could in those pre-Internet days, and still prior to the vast cable coverage of every game around.
I remember watching the Herd in the I-AA title game against those Jim Tressel-coached Penguins of Youngstown State, and how a rising star broadcaster named Jim Nantz called the game on CBS from our stadium. And when Willy Merrick kicked that game-winning field goal, our school was a national champion. What a proud moment!
I’d like to thank those M Club staff members who had a hand in helping organize the event, as well as one of the ’92 team members and one of our strong Big Green and M Club supporters, Casey Hill, president of Eagle Distributing in Ashland, Ky. Casey sponsored the pregame tailgate, too.
Casey said he and a few of his teammates have stayed together over the years, but the touchstone of a reunion brought him phone calls in the weeks leading up to the event from former teammates who live in Virginia, Georgia and other states.
Casey came to Marshall as a walk-on from Point Pleasant High, and he played linebacker and tight end for the Herd teams in that era.
“If you asked me what that team meant to me, it was the team that put the exclamation point on the brotherhood, the community relationship, the feeling that we’d built all the way back from the plane crash in 1970, to a national championship in ’92,” Hill said.
“As for that team itself, we wanted to win because we’d been leading 17-3 in the fourth quarter the year before, and lost down to Georgia (to Youngstown State, 25-17). The next year, we got back there again (to the title game, losing to the Penguins).
“That time, that ’92 team and the others, started a great foundation for our program, for our fans. We won more games than any other program in the ‘90s, and those teams were where it started and it was special to be part of that.”
The idea is that the M Club is trying to organize a couple of these sports or team “reunion” events tied to football home games every season now. We hope to continue that recent trend, because it’s a good one. We want our past athletes involved.
Three weeks before the ’92 football reunion, our track and field and cross country programs had their reunion, which was highlighted by not only the telling of tales, but also the gracious $1 million contribution to the Vision Campaign by Richard Small, the father of our veteran coach in those sports, Jeff Small.
Last year, we had a reunion for the swimming and diving programs, at which time we recognized retired Coach Bob Saunders.
Then, there are the men’s basketball reunions. The first of those was two seasons ago, when we established an Alumni Game. Last season, the reunion was oh-so special, as we celebrated the closing of the Veterans Memorial Field House, where so many memorable Herd moments occurred on the floor.
The return of greats like Hal Greer, Russell Lee, Sonny Allen and Charlie Slack made for a truly awesome Herd hoops weekend. We’ll have another basketball reunion this season, for the Feb. 23 Henderson Center game against UAB. We’re hoping for a good turnout, and we’ll play another Alumni Game, too.
These reunions allow us to celebrate not just where we have been, but what we have become. It brings back former student-athletes to see where we are going with the Vision Campaign and what that major effort will eventually bring to us in new facilities.
And whether one of your teams or sports has plans for a reunion in the near future, I want to personally invite all former Herd student athletes to join the M Club and get involved deeper in our efforts to enhance our athletic program.
We need your help to get where we want to go, and where we need to go. We need you in the “family.”
LET’S GO HERD!
HUNTINGTON — Most of our Marshall Thundering Herd supporters are keenly following football and gearing up for basketball season these days. That’s understandable, and appreciated. I urge you to pay attention, too, to the current performance and future potential in our Olympic sports programs as well. There’s a whole lot of promise there. The records don’t lie. And what the Vision Campaign will do to enhance those programs is unquestionable.
The Herd will have a new soccer stadium next fall. The indoor facility will accommodate all of our sports, allowing for hitting in baseball, softball and golf. Track and field will be able to hold the kind of workouts that are not possible now.
However, in the current 2012-13 school year, our coaches and student-athletes aren’t waiting for the Vision Campaign dreams to come true. They already are having big success and significant improvement in several quarters.
That is what we want. The first major capital campaign for Marshall athletics will only help us do that in future years, too.
With ground soon to be broken for the new soccer stadium down Fifth Avenue at 26th Street (at the old Veterans Memorial Field House site), our soccer programs have shown solid improvement as they approach the last few weeks of the season.
The men’s team, under veteran Coach Bob Gray, already has reached 10 wins after going 8-8-1 last year. The Herd has been among the top three in the nation in shutout percentage and fewest goals allowed – four in 12 games entering last weekend.
Goalkeeper Daniel Withrow and forward Tom Jackson are among Conference USA’s top players. And while they are seniors, Coach Gray has several promising freshmen on a roster that will only be helped in recruiting by our new facility that will be one of the nation’s finest.
Coach Kevin Long has a very young team in women’s soccer, but his Herd, with seven victories, already has topped last season’s total of four. His program also will be helped greatly by the new stadium that will spark soccer interest in general in the Tri-State area.
And I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that those teams played “home” games at area high schools, without complaint and with great anticipation for the future seasons and the new stadium.
In volleyball, Coach Mitch Jacobs’ team was picked to finish 11th out of 12 teams by his fellow C-USA coaches. The Herd went into the weekend in third place, and after back-to-back 20-loss years, we are headed for 20 wins with a team with plenty of youth. The Herd is unbeaten in the Henderson Center this season and has won 13 of its last 17 matches. The team also has come up big at crunch time, with a 6-2 record in five-set matches. The men’s golf team under new Coach Matt Grobe has taken up where retired Coach Joe Feaganes’ program left off, with a secondplace finish in the Marshall Invitational and other solid efforts, including a third in the Bearcats Invitational hosted by Cincinnati. Nathan Kerns, who won the Ohio Amateur title during the summer, has led the team in scoring as its senior captain. We didn’t have to wait long for success in women’s golf, too. Sophomore Korakot Simsiriwong took the Herd’s first golf individual title of the school year, winning the Ball State-hosted Cardinal Classic in a playoff.
In tennis, Coach John Mercer’s fall season has been highlighted by two victories over ITA-ranked doubles teams by the duo of seniorDominika Zaprazna and junior Maria Voscekova in the Riviera All-American event in Los Angeles.
We also had a special “homecoming” hire in tennis, as Kellie Schmidt – our career wins leader in Herd history – returned to Huntington as Coach Mercer’s new assistant.
In cross country, Coach Jeff Small’s teams (men and women) are pointed toward the Conference USA Championships next week at Southern Miss after having solid seasons and developing more depth. Those teams have been led by senior David Caldwell and sophomore Celia Leonard.
Our swimming and diving program, under the new leadership of Coach Bill Tramel, opened the season Oct. 12-13 at home with a second-place finish in the West Virginia State Games.
The Herd has several home meets coming up in Fitch Natatorium, so you might want to check out a program in which Tramel – who came to us after years as an assistant in several major swim programs – plans to build quickly.
It’s much the same in women’s basketball, with new Coach Matt Daniel laying the foundation – you don’t say “bricks” in basketball –
for his House of Higher Hoops in Huntington. He’s been on the road a lot, prospecting and recruiting, and he will sign the dividends of that work next month.
Baseball and softball have held fall workouts, and are pointing toward the spring with promise.
Baseball’s excitement is not only rooted in the 2012 Major League debut of former Herd right-hander Dan Straily with the Oakland Athletics, but also the return of righty Aaron Blair, who dominated hitters in the wooden-bat Cape Cod League this summer.
In softball, fire-balling pitcher Andi Williamson returns for the Herd, so maybe Coach Shonda Stanton’s 2013 team can advance one step and win a C-USA title after a runner-up finish in the tournament last spring.
And the indoor track season opens in early December with one meet before getting into a full schedule the following month, a reminder of how much better those student-athletes will have it thanks to the Vision Campaign, once the indoor facility and its six-lane, 300-meter track are ready to go.
It’s been a good athletic year overall for the Herd to date. There’s no reason we can’t keep it going, as we continue to eye the future and what the Vision Campaign – with your support – will bring to our campus.
LET’S GO HERD!!
HUNTINGTON — It isn’t often that a visiting football team’s charter flight will deliver $1 million to you.
But that’s exactly what happened here at Marshall University on Homecoming weekend, when Tulsa came to town.
Among the travelers on that Golden Hurricane flight was the father of our longtime track and field and cross country coach, Jeff Small.
Tulsa resident Richard Small – a self-made American success story if there ever were one and a major TU supporter, too – flew with our next-day’s opponent and at the MU track and field and cross country reunion dinner on Oct. 5, made a major commitment to our ongoing Vision Campaign to build new athletic facilities.
I thanked Tulsa Athletic Director Ross Parmley for delivering $1 million to us. It was the least he could do. It doesn’t happen every day.
Mr. Small took that flight wearing a Marshall T-shirt and carrying a Marshall briefcase, while also wearing a Tulsa cap and jacket. And at the dinner, I announced that, pending approval of Dr. (Stephen) Kopp, our president, and the MU Board of Governors, the 300-meter, six-lane track in our new indoor facility will be named for his son, Coach Jeff Small.
That’s right. A large donation for a Small track!
Coach Small was surprised. His father hadn’t told him. Travis Epling, one of his former runners and our assistant director of development with the Big Green, hadn’t told him. Some people in the athletic department had known for a month. Yes, we can keep a secret.
Travis did a great, great job paving the way for Mr. Small’s very significant gift. He worked with me on the proposal presentation, but Travis did a whole lot of the legwork on this one. We met with Mr. Small when the Herd played football and basketball at Tulsa last season.
“It means a whole lot to me,” Coach Small said. “It makes me really happy that the student-athletes who come here in the future for track and field will be helped greatly by my dad’s gift. It’s going to help them realize their dream.
“I’m flattered my dad would do that. Flattered, yes. Surprised, no.”
Not long after the Vision Campaign was announced, Coach Small talked to Travis and told his former runner of the possibility that Mr. Small might be able to help.
“I told Travis, ‘I don’t know if he’ll give you even a penny, or $1 million,’” Coach Small said. “If anything, just ask him how you become a good fund-raiser. He’s dealt with a lot of them.”
Mr. Small later told us that what piqued his interest was back when Marshall and West Virginia dropped their men’s track and field programs at pretty much the same time, and he was disappointed that no Division I school in our state would have men’s track anymore.
He said he hoped that one day Marshall might have men’s track again, but when he heard about the Vision Campaign, he became intrigued about the plans that included the indoor track and how much it might help his son and our other coaches to recruit student-athletes.
“It’s not about you, not about me, really not about Jeff,” Mr. Small said. “It’s about the student-athletes and how they will prosper with this.”
Mr. Small – he’s 83 now and still active in the aerospace hardware business – was a student-athlete back in the day, as they say. After becoming the cross country manager at Cornell College in Iowa, where he enrolled in 1946, he was invited onto the wrestling team.
He said the experience “changed my life,” and he won a conference championship, while tiny Cornell won a stunning NCAA wrestling championship in 1947.
He also told us Jeff’s “track genes” don’t come from him. Jeff’s maternal grandfather, Stuart Crippen, was an NCAA runner-up in the 2-mile in 1922 or ’23, and his 2-mile record at Northwestern University stood for more than 40 years. He also was a 4x800 runner-up in the famed Drake Relays in one of those years.
Mr. Small’s post-graduation story is one of those “only-in-America” deals. He was working for a petroleum company in Chicago when, in 1952, he decided to strike out on his own.
He started renting an abandoned gas station on U.S. 30 (the Lincoln Highway) in a Chicago suburb for $40 a month. He bought two gas pumps for $25 apiece, and started the Cheker – no C -- Oil Co.
Mr. Small’s business grew to about 400 stations in 19 states, with reported annual revenues of $500 million. Then, in 1983, he sold Cheker to Marathon Oil. The next year, he started a second career as
president and CEO of Tri-Star Aerospace, a distributor of aerospace hardware.
Mr. Small said he and his wife, Norma, financially support Cornell College, his alma mater; Graceland University, in Lamoni, Iowa; Tulsa, and Marshall. He has made donations for Jeff’s track and field program before his generous gift to the Vision Campaign.
“I’m blessed to have a great family and to have been born in this great country,” Mr. Small told us. “I’ve been part of two or three businesses that have been very successful. I’m happy to give to all of
those schools. Marshall has been a special place to Jeff.
“And let me say this: At the football game, I was wearing a Tulsa cap. People there didn’t know who I was. No idea. I wasn’t wearing Marshall gear. But I want to say I’ve never met such a group of
enthusiastic, kind, friendly, warm people as were at the stadium that day.
“They were truly absolutely great.”
So are you, Mr. Small. So are you. It is Vision Campaign donors like you that will help move the Thundering Herd forward.
HUNTINGTON – Halfway through our Thundering Herd football season, the basketballs are dribbling in the Cam Henderson Center again.
It’s a welcome sound.
Coach Matt Daniel’s first Marshall women’s team started workouts this week, and Coach Tom Herrion’s men will get things going at 8 p.m. Friday with Thundering Herd Madness, which I hope many of you will attend.
There’s great reason for optimism as we approach the 2012-13 season.
Coach Herrion has a team with more talent than we’ve had in years. He has scheduled aggressively, which he and I want. In Conference USA, the Herd should battle Memphis for a league title. That’s my opinion, anyway.
I’m excited about Coach Daniel and the prospects for his program. He has brought a new enthusiasm to Herd women’s hoops, which had stagnated. I hope fans will turn out to see what he’s trying to build, and have some patience as he does the construction job.
He and his staff – the youngest in Division I – have been recruiting hard, and heavily recruiting in-state. I’ve always said that if local kids can play at our level, I want them to stay home and play for Marshall. Coach Daniel is going to leave no Mountain State stone unturned, I promise you.
The response for season tickets in men’s basketball has been very strong. Repeatedly, I am asked whether the courtside seats we introduced two seasons ago – after Coach Herrion was hired – are available. The answer is no, and that reflects the growing enthusiasm
here for hoops.
HUNTINGTON – When I was a little boy, my favorite colors were red, white and blue … the school colors of the Herbert Hoover High Huskies, where my dad, Jim, was the football coach and where I went to school in Kanawha County. My favorite hue, however, has changed … I have gone green, and while recycling is great, that’s not my point of reference here. It seems like a whole lot of Marshall are just like this football alumnus, too.
When I came back to Marshall as athletic director in 2009, one of the first things I did was go out to visit as many Herd fans as I could – around West Virginia, to New York City, Washington, D.C., Charlotte (N.C.), Lexington (Ky.). I wanted to listen to their thoughts and ideas on what they might want to see in our program.
What I learned was that our fans craved to have kelly green back as Marshall’s official color, with white. If I heard it once in my early months here from fans, I heard it a thousand times. They wanted kelly green back.
I thought it was a really great idea.
I was told President Dan Angel changed the color at some point, and everything changed except the football jerseys. One night before I came back here, I was watching a Herd game on television. The team was in Kelly green jerseys; the coaches on the sideline were in forest green shirts. I thought that didn’t make any sense. Your school color is your color. Once I came back after hearing how many of our supporters wanted kelly green, I had a meeting with NIKE, which provides all of our uniforms and coaches’ apparel. I told them – pretty firmly – we wanted kelly green in all of our uniforms and sideline apparel. They came back with it in samples, and I went to Dr. (Stephen) Kopp to show him and ask him about going back to kelly. He just didn’t approve – he was thrilled, very, very supportive. He said he’d always been a fan of kelly, and gave us permission to make the
So, now we’re kelly green again … announced it in August a year ago. It’s a very distinctive color. Let me give you another example of the difference a color can make. In a Conference USA meeting this spring, some of the athletic directors there asked me if we’d renovated the Henderson Center or football stadium. I told them other than the scoreboard and the ribbon boards, not, not really, and I wondered why they asked that. Turned out, they saw games on TV and thought things were much “brighter, newer,” one said.
HUNTINGTON – Another Marshall Athletics Hall of Fame weekend is complete, and besides applauding a great class last weekend, there was and will be more reason to celebrate when we consider the Hall.
Finally, thanks to our ongoing Vision Campaign, these 2012 Hall of Fame inductees will have a place where their names, faces and accomplishments will be proudly displayed and warmly recalled in our new Hall of Fame, adjacent to the indoor practice facility off Third Avenue.
The greatest student-athletes from our Thundering Herd past deserve a nice place of honor. And as we proceed in the first – and a very ambitious -- capital campaign in Herd athletic history, we are taking strong steps in that direction.
This year’s eight inductees bring the number of Herd Hall of Famers to 208. The late Charlie Kautz and Arlene Stooke were inducted posthumously, and joined Greg Kappas, William King, Tim Martin, Jim Sheridan, Jermaine Swafford and Richard Watts as the latest honorees.
As an athletic director, and especially as one who graduated from here and was a Marshall student-athlete, one of the highlights of the year is attending the annual Hall of Fame ceremony and recalling the people and recounting the accomplishments that brought their election by the Hall’s board.
It’s an exciting time for them as well as for us. And for me, there were more than a few personal connections and recollections when the 2012 class got their “Hall passes” last weekend.
Greg Kappas was a three-time Marshall Pitcher of the Year, and deservedly so. The guy from Newport, Ky., could really throw. When I got to Marshall, on spring days when we didn’t have football practice, a bunch of us would go down to the old St. Cloud Commons ballpark and watch him pitch. Coach Jack Cook had some really good teams
HUNTINGTON – The 2012-13 athletic year is well underway, and Marshall will have about 375 individual student-athletes participate on Thundering Herd teams this school year.
My first wish is that each and every one of them will one day become an M Club member ... the sooner, the better.
My second wish is that those who have participated in our great program in the past – as athletes, coaches, trainers, managers, cheerleaders or Marco the mascot – join the M Club now. You don't have to be a letter winner. The M Club is open to all who participated on our teams.
We've had a resurgence of the M Club in recent years, and I have taken it as a personal challenge to make former student-athletes welcome back at our alma mater.
HUNTINGTON – You’ve heard me talk a whole lot about our Vision Campaign in the last year. You’re going to hear me talk about it more in the coming months, too.
We’ve reached a crucial juncture for the future of Marshall University athletics, for the most ambitious capital campaign Thundering Herd athletics has undertaken. Really, it’s not only the most ambitious campaign, it’s the first … and it’s long overdue.
We are going public with the campaign, and in the next few days you will receive correspondence from our two devoted Vision co-chairs, Mike D’Antoni and Chad Pennington. It is an important letter from two Marshall greats.
And when you attend early season home football games, please look for the debut of the Vision promotional video on the Edwards Stadium board. You will learn even more about what we are building, and why it is important for the future of our programs and their student-athletes and coaches.