New lockers result of push by head football coach, alumni

By University Communications
September 16, 2016
Clayt Birmingham stands in the Blue Devils’ locker room, which features new lockers as a result of a fundraising effort led by himself and former players.

Photo: Clayt Birmingham stands in the Blue Devils’ locker room, which features
new lockers as a result of a fundraising effort led by himself and former players.

If University of Wisconsin-Stout football players seem to have an extra bounce in their step when they enter Don and Nona Williams Stadium for home games this season, there’s a reason why.

Players have a like-new, renovated locker room in the nearby Sports and Fitness Center. The room features pro-style cubicle lockers for each of the team’s 100 players.

The lockers and the renovated room, including new flooring, are the result of a fundraising campaign initiated by Coach Clayt Birmingham, who had seen the old room deteriorate year after year.

“I’m happy for our current and future players, that we can provide them with a great college football experience. The look on their faces when they walk in our locker room is priceless,” Birmingham said.

The lockers were installed over the summer and assigned to players when training camp began in August. The Blue Devils had their first home game of the season Saturday, Sept. 3. Their next home game is homecoming at 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 8, against UW-La Crosse.

The previous metal lockers, original to the building, were approaching 30 years old and were surrounded by peeling paint, a musty floor and other indicators of a room that had seen much better days.

Each new locker, made of wood, includes a padded seat, places to hang clothing and stack equipment and a secure storage box in which players can lock their valuables.

The layout of the room was reconfigured as well, making it more open in the center.

“Our 25-year-old-plus locker room had rusted, inoperable lockers. We had been told that it was on the plan for renovation, but each year it got pushed farther back. So, we did it ourselves,” Birmingham said.

A locker sponsored by former player Jim Alumni helped lead fundraising effort

Birmingham began planning the project in summer 2015, and fundraising began in January. A fundraising goal was set at $100,000.

In about nine months, three-fourths of the total has been raised. Birmingham expects the goal will be met by the end of the year. Learn more and donate at theStout University Foundation.

The Blue Devils made a special appeal to football team alumni. Former players can sponsor a locker for $1,000. Their locker will include a plaque with their name, picture and accomplishments. The major donors also are being recognized on a plaque outside the locker room and in the concourse at the stadium.

For example, the locker of 2016 player Isaac Sexe is sponsored by Jim “Snagg” Shore, a standout defender in the early 1970s. Shore’s plaque includes a photo of him, a list of awards he received and a thank you to his family and coach, Sten Pierce.

Alumni leading the campaign include Greg Mickelson, 1967; Mark LaLonde, 1992; the family of Marty Platek, who played for three years before passing away as a senior in 2009; and Mark Jezierski, who donated on behalf of former player Ryan Englebert and former coach Mike Wyatt.

Duey Naatz, athletic director, is pleased to see the support for the football team by former players and for Blue Devil athletics.

“We are most excited about our football alumni quickly jumping on board to support this project. Clayt has worked very hard, and the funding support from the alumni has been tremendous,” Naatz said. “This is an ongoing opportunity to provide support to the football student-athlete experience for many years to come.”

Naatz called the locker room project “one step in our overall commitment to improving our student-athlete experience through major fundraising. We look forward to growing our alumni support in all of our programs through the #bleedblue initiative and the Blue Devil Fund.”



Bottom Photo: Some of UW-Stout’s 100 new football lockers were sponsored in memory of or by a former player, such as this one by Jim “Snagg” Shore from the 1970s.