Hall of Fame exhibit to be rectified in Kates gym; softball field in talks

The+hall+of+fame+exhibit+will+feature+kiosks+that+allow+viewers+to+view+Eagle+athletic+history%2C+past+and+present.+

Photo Submitted by Kyle Vaughn

The hall of fame exhibit will feature kiosks that allow viewers to view Eagle athletic history, past and present.

Evan Laux, NEWS & OPINION EDITOR

At the conclusion of the basketball and wrestling seasons this spring, Kates gymnasium will see its next quality of life renovation after last fall’s creation of the Rinehart room: a hall of fame exhibit devoted to both past and present Ashland Eagle athletes.

The Tom Wurster Hall of Fame and Sports History Center (title subject to change) will be located in the main lobby, directly outside of the gymnasium.

“We had talked a lot about ways that we could give more of a profile to our hall of fame for awhile,” Director of Athletics, Al King said. “It’s been upstairs for a long time now and I don’t think a lot of people see it.”

King believes that in its new place, Kates attendees will be naturally drawn to the hall of fame.
“More and more people are gonna see it through the athletic events, graduation and everything else we do here,” King said.

The main attraction of the exhibit will be its five interactive kiosks, allowing visitors to engage with AU sports history, statistics and updates. All AU sports will be featured in the exhibit.
The three kiosks in the middle will be dedicated specifically to Ashland sports history, while the two on the outsides will show current athletic information.

“There’s so many more opportunities than what you’d have with a regular hall of fame wall,” King said. “Say you or your dad or mom played here, you call up their name and there’s their hall of fame plaque. But we also want to recognize all of our sports history, so we’re gonna put in stuff like great teams, great moments, national champions and championship teams, academic all-Americans … that sort of thing, and we can update that whenever we want. It’s going to be very interactive.”

The donors who provided funding for the exhibit, Tom (class of 1964) and Ann Wurster were adamant about also catering to current athletics as well, according to Associate Director of Athletics Development Kyle Vaughn.

“Tom really liked the whole digital idea with all of the opportunities it allowed,” Vaughn said. “The outside kiosks will allow for our live Twitter feed to go through and our current rosters among other things. Say it’s volleyball season, we’ll have a volleyball video playing – we can gear it to whatever season we’re in.”

In addition to the upfront cost, the Wurster family set up an endowment fund for the exhibit that will guarantee its continued maintenance.

The kiosks will be located on the western wall of the gym entrance lobby, while the eastern wall is still open to suggestion. King and Vaughn are currently unsure of what will be put there, but a mural or other athletic related piece of artwork is a possibility.

The exhibit will also be able to be accessed through goashlandeagles.com.

“When the Hall of Fame class next year gets loaded in, I can send them the link and they can check it out,” Vaughn said. “I think that this will help to further touch base with our alumni, which will in turn have them be the next Tom and Ann Wurster. When you look around at our buildings, they’re all named after a donor. We want to continue that culture with our younger alumni and keep them highly engaged and attached to this community.”

New Softball Field

Within the AU athletic department, there have also been talks of building a new softball field alongside the Donges baseball field.

The proposed complex has been discussed for years, according to Director of Athletics Al King.
“The university has looked for awhile about wanting to build a softball field,” King said. “It would go alongside the baseball field since we already have the land. Softball is the one team that still doesn’t have a field on campus so I think it would be really important if we got it built.”

The athletic department currently does not have the funding to build the field, but is scouting for donors who may want to contribute.

“We have secured donations already and have alumni who have made major gifts towards it,” Associate Director of Athletics Development Kyles Vaughn said. “In terms of commitments we’ve probably made a little over $100,000.”

Vaughn added that progress will move quicker once a lead donor is found, i.e. someone who contributes at least half of the total cost towards the project.

“We’re working on continuing to identify people who have a passion for softball and are willing to support the project,” Vaughn said. There’s definitely people out there.”

The field’s total cost sits at around roughly $1.5 million according to Vaughn.