The home of the Racers has gotten a face lift this year, after the coaches spent their summer renovating Roy Stewart Stadium and the team’s personal space. Starting in March, the Racers have banded together to make their place in the stadium worthy of the team.
“We painted just about every wall in the place – the hallways and almost every room,” Chris Burnette, assistant coach, said. “We remodeled all the coaches’ offices, which was basically just paint and clean up.
“We built what we call the Horseshoe Lounge. It’s basically a players’ lounge. It’s got TVs, a pool table, X-Boxes, and Playstations. We remodeled the locker room, painted it, moved the lockers around to make a better use of the space.
“It’s not quite completed yet, but we’ve almost finished the team room. We made it stadium seating, then individual position seating rooms, too.”
Though the project started with only the coaching staff pitching in, as the players saw the progress, the renovation became a team effort.
“They saw it immediately and at first they probably thought we were crazy,” Burnette said. “When we first started it we were doing early morning spring practices, so we would be in there from nine till midnight. But when they realized what we were doing they started grabbing paintbrushes and helping out.”
That initiative not only got a majority of the work done, but it also gave the players a sense of pride not only in their locker room, but in their team and their school.
“All we really wanted to do was instill a sense of pride about the place in the kids and make them proud to be a Murray State football player and it’s worked,” Burnette said. “You go down there and if there’s a guy who’s not on the team with his foot on the wall our guys will get mad because they painted that wall and they don’t want it scuffed up.”
In addition to being good for the team, the new facility has been a place for the coaches’ families to spend their time.
“It’s been good for our families, too,” Burnette said. “This coaching staff has a lot of young kids and the players will be in there playing video games with them. The space is definitely being used.”
Although he’s not sure a little paint and elbow grease will have an effect on the season, Burnette said he has seen a change in the team for the better.
“I don’t know if it’ll impact our season, but it has impacted the attitude of our team as far as the sense of pride and a mindset of doing all the little things right,” he said.
The last addition to Stewart Stadium for the Racers will be a space honoring the great Murray State players from previous seasons.
“We’ve got a hall of fame room that still needs to be completed,” Burnette said. “The floor will be similar to the turf that’s on the field. There’s going to be a winner’s circle with a horse statue in the middle. It’s basically going to be homage to the great players and All-Americans.”