MARSHALL, Texas – East Texas Baptist University and Symmetry Turf have partnered to continue to enhance the Tiger Athletic facilities. The first step in this process has been completed with the installation of artificial turf on the football field at Ornelas Stadium.
“East Texas Baptist is honored to partner with Symmetry Turf,” said ETBU president, Dr. Blair Blackburn. “We are grateful for the leadership of Jason Bell and Wayne Poage...what a blessing to work with Godly businessmen who value their calling in support of our Christ-centered mission.”
Upon learning of the unfortunate loss of two football players in 2016, Symmetry Turf decided to create a special edition turf for ETBU. The Genesis Turf special edition is called, “Genesis 4:9,” referencing Genesis 4:9 from the Bible. The turf has a 49 ounce face-weight and a logo with, “Genesis 4:9, I am My Brother’s Keeper,” installed on the ETBU sideline. This project was done in memory and to honor two football players that passed away, Darrian “D.J.” McClintock, Jr., and Norvontre “Tre” Harrison, in April 2016.
Blackburn said, “The Genesis 4:9 project is a reminder to all of us to hold each other accountable in our commitment to Jesus.”
In addition to the new turf, ETBU has started a new campaign to raise funds to honor both McClintock and Harrison. “We will be starting a campaign to raise money for two bronze, life-sized statues of D.J. and Tre that will sit at the top of Ornelas Stadium. The two statues will be arm in arm. They met Jesus arm in arm and they will watch over their brothers on the field, arm in arm,” said Blackburn.
ETBU held their first event on the Genesis 4:9 field as they partnered with the University of Texas and several other NCAA Division I programs to host a football camp on June 5. The camp saw over 300 prospective student-athletes step foot on the new surface for the one day camp, which proved to be a huge success.
ETBU Head Football Coach Scott Highsmith said, “Our new turf is simply fabulous. Everything from design to functionality is as good as I’ve ever been on or seen. It’s going to make every facet of our program better. The camp we held on-campus June 5, showed how valuable this turf is already for ETBU.”
The football field is the first of three new artificial turf fields being installed at ETBU. Taylor Field, the home of eight-time American Southwest Conference softball champions and the 2010 NCAA Division III National Championship team, will be a fully artificial playing surface. Woods Field, which is home to the ETBU baseball team, will have an artificial infield. Both projects are currently underway with both fields being completed by the middle of July.
"Adding artificial turf to Ornelas Stadium, Taylor Field, and Woods Field are the latest great additions to the already beautiful ETBU campus," Ryan Erwin Vice President for Athletics and Director of Athletics at ETBU said. "It will positively add to the student-athlete experience and give the Tiger football, softball, and baseball programs the opportunity to practice and compete at a high level on a field that is playable in all conditions.”
Symmetry Turf is one of the top ranked turf companies in the United States. They have installed fields for the Baltimore Ravens, New Orleans Saints, and numerous NCAA Division I programs, including the University of Houston. Symmetry Turf is located in Mount Pleasant, Texas.