The day the NJCAA cancelled the remainder of the college baseball season was the day Steve Murry and his colleagues brainstormed constructive activities to do at Hudson Field and inside the indoor training facility on Ross Lane. The latest COVID-19 project completed happens to be a part of a baseball that everyone recognizes.
Last Wednesday, Neosho County Community College head baseball coach Murry, assistant coach Josh Merrill, and maintenance crew members Dustin Mitchell, Kyle Suefert and TJ Solander finished installing lighting on the ceiling in the baseball locker room that depicts the seams on a baseball. The light glows in the locker room when all lights are off, permeating the room with the SHOtime orange-and-black colors as soon as spectators walk in.
The lighting seams were cut as stainless steel at Chanute Manufacturing and donated by Clint Isaac, general manager of the company. Mitchell, Suefert and Solander then drilled through the stainless steel and infused lighting ordered from Amazon, which took about a day. The maintenance employees also did similar work for the softball locker room.
“Both programs got a huge facelift when it comes to a locker room,” Murry said. “It does have that shock and awe. It looks very professional and it’s just little things like that that give you more pride in your program.”
Other projects that have been completed are the weight room Panther and the indoor facility’s walls. Projects that are currently ongoing include the home plate replacement, the chat project (small rocks path on inside and outside of the Hudson Field fence), the scoreboard, and the powerlifting platform. Murry said the COVID-19 projects should be done in a month or so.
With cases rising, sports halting, and businesses closing, Murry said he wanted to get back to baseball in some form and find a way to prepare for next season.
“We want to stay ahead of the curve, especially at the JuCo level,” Murry continued. “It’ll stop you in your tracks when you first walk in, and you’re like, ‘Wow, that’s really cool.’ From a recruiting aspect, a dude comes in here and he’s looking at that and goes, ‘Oh, well, so and so doesn’t haven’t that.’ So we just try to stay ahead of the Joneses if we can.”
Staying ahead means formulating a plan and attacking the process each and every day to accomplish some kind of a goal. Merrill and Murry carefully considered the seam lighting. And when materials were in, Merrill assisted the maintenance crew in placing the new lighting on the ceiling.
Merrill played for Murry 2012-13, so becoming an assistant coach and participating in the administrative and recruiting aspects of his former team makes the process of helping out that much more enjoyable.
“I think it’s really cool that I did get to play here and this locker room wasn’t here when I was here,” Merrill said. “And me helping build this facility for other recruits and other current and future players I think is really cool. So having a small piece of that is awesome.”