Taking It to the Next Level
Since joining the ranks of NCAA Division III schools in 1998, Cru football has established quite a reputation for itself, winning 9 conference championships in the last 14 years.
Yet UMHB football is about much more than a winning tradition. It’s about teaching young men about self-discipline and responsibility, about taking the long view and working hard for a degree. From the very start, Head Coach Pete Fredenburg and his staff tell their players that they expect them to be men of integrity, and whether the players see much time on the field or not, they all are expected to become leaders as they move through the program, mentoring younger players along the way.
The football program has also generated a strong sense of school spirit among the thousands of students and local fans who come to cheer the Cru to victory week after week at Belton High School’s stadium. To make this program an even more integral part of campus life, the UMHB Campus Master Plan calls for the construction of the university’s first football stadium on campus.
Clustered with the new Student Union Building and the Frank and Sue Mayborn Campus Center (which houses the arena and fitness center) the stadium will become part of an exciting student activity zone at the heart of the campus. With football games within walking distance of all campus residences, the Student Life staff anticipates a whole new level of student participation in the Couch Cru, the Crusader Marching Band, tailgate parties, and other spirit traditions as Cru football gains momentum year after year.
He came to play football; he left a changed man.
Dustin Davis’s childhood was not an idyllic one. When his parents divorced, his mother left Dustin and his brothers to be raised by their grandparents. He had little contact with his father until he began playing high school football, but their relationship was cut short when his dad died in the fall of his sophomore year. After graduation, Dustin was recruited to play football at a small state university, but he left after the first year because he didn’t feel any sense of connection there. Things looked like they were at a dead end when a friend of his grandparents, Pat Lockridge Shannon ‘53, stepped in and suggested he enroll at her alma mater, UMHB.
Dustin earned a starting position at center on the Cru football team and went on to earn a position on the American Football Coaches Association’s Division III All-American Team for his play. But the life lessons he learned at UMHB brought even greater rewards. “When I showed up on campus, I was 19 years old. I had no idea who I was or what I stood for. My coaches at UMHB were like fathers to me; they wanted to help me figure out who I was instead of just seeing what they could get out of me as an athlete. Because of them, I know what it means to be a man of God.”
Davis became a leader in the Christian ministry Young Life, and by the time he graduated in 2011, he had several of his teammates working with him, sharing the message of Christ with high school and college students in Belton and Killeen. Today he is the program director for the Armed Services YMCA in Killeen, where he is able to pass along to the next generation the lessons he’s learned about hard work, responsibility, and discipline.
View Live Web Cam!When the time came to design a football stadium for the UMHB campus, the university wanted a facility that would be as outstanding and unique as its football program. So the university asked the renowned sports architecture firm Populous to design a stadium that would meet the growing needs of the university. The Populous team designed Crusader Stadium to offer the optimal game day experience:
- Seating capacity for more than 8,000
- Designated seating areas for the UMHB band and the Couch Cru, positioned over the field entrance tunnel for home team
- Concession areas which overlook the field, so no game time is missed during trips for concessions
- Media suite for announcers and journalists
- Coaches’ suite for coaches calling plays
- Elevated, enclosed area for video camera crews to film games
- A VIP suite for entertaining special guests of the university, with access to outdoor seating for guests
- Score board with a 40’ by 26’ video screen
- Chair-back seating on both sides of stadium
- Unrivaled locker room facilities located in convenient proximities
- Concourse-level access to university bookstore, so fans can purchase spirit items on game days
The Crusader football coaching staff has developed a program that has become a model nationwide, exemplifying the Division III philosophy of “student first, athlete second.”
The football program reflects the UMHB athletic program’s commitment to excellence in three interrelated areas:
Crusader football players learn from their first day of practice that they are expected to work hard both on and off the field. Their academic progress is monitored regularly through “Grades First,” an early warning system which allows professors to report poor performance. When reports of problems come through, coaches and advisors get the low-performing athletes involved in study groups and tutoring. Team rules must be obeyed without exception; players who are not meeting the expectations for personal behavior must go before a Unity Council made up of respected older players and abide by whatever penalties that group may impose. Each of the players is expected to become a mentor to younger players as he moves through the program, and the coaches make it clear that the upperclassmen are expected to take a lead in modeling the work ethic and behavior of a Crusader.
As part of the campus community
At UMHB, football players are expected to be active, contributing members of the university community. There are no special privileges for athletes. In accordance with NCAA Division III policies, there are no athletic scholarships awarded at UMHB; players must apply and compete for scholarships along the same guidelines as other students. No special housing is designated for athletes, so the players live in the residence halls, intermingled with non-athletes. Cru football enjoys great support from the student body, and the football players show their appreciation by going to the games when other sports are playing, to cheer the Crusader basketball, soccer, volleyball, baseball, and softball teams on to victory.
As part of the Central Texas community
Cru football players are taught that community service is an integral part of their activities. The players give back to the Central Texas community in a variety of ways, from visiting local elementary schools and the children at McLane Children’s Hospital Scott & White, to participating in food drives and fundraisers to alleviate poverty and hunger both locally and abroad. Coaches emphasize that the attention the football players receive as successful athletes makes them ambassadors for the university wherever they go, and they should always behave in a manner that befits that role.
Under the direction of lead architect Earl Santee, the Populous architectural team has designed a one-of-a-kind stadium that reflects the philosophy of Crusader athletics.
Just as each player is expected to demonstrate excellence in all aspects of his life, the stadium design reflects a commitment to using quality materials to create an outstanding game day experience. The brick exterior of the stadium has been designed to complement the look of the Frank and Sue Mayborn Campus Center next door, so that together the two facilities present a unified, attractive zone for campus activities. Specifications for the project call for durable, attractive seating on the visitors’ side of the field as well as in the home stands. Concession stands will be positioned on the concourse level, so fans will be able to continue watching the game while waiting in line for concessions. These details and more have been incorporated into the design to make the UMHB stadium a highly functional and attractive addition to the university campus.
As part of the campus
The interlocking design of the football stadium and the new student union building reflects the university’s approach to athletics: football is an integrated part of campus life that can offer a source of pride and fun for athletes and non-athletes alike. Just as a Crusader football player is expected to live and interact with a wide range of students, the stadium has been located in the heart of the campus to encourage widespread participation in activities there. The stadium’s design, with the student union building anchoring the visitors’ side of the stands, will make it possible for fans to enter the university bookstore directly from the stadium to purchase t-shirts and other spirit items on game days; large windows in the dining areas of the student union will overlook the interior of the stadium, reinforcing the idea that collegiate sports are a part of student life.
As part of Central Texas
Cru football has earned enthusiastic support from many in the surrounding communities who previously felt no particular affiliation with UMHB. Planners likewise expect the new football stadium to draw more visitors onto the UMHB campus than ever before. “In the past, visitors could go to a UMHB game and never set foot on the campus,” says Vice President for Athletics Ben Shipp.” The new stadium will give us the opportunity to host high school playoffs, Division III playoffs, and other special events right on campus. I can’t help but think that, as more people see what we have here, it will raise awareness of what a wonderful school we have at UMHB.”