MARQUETTE, Mich. (WJMN) – Much needed changes are coming to Northern Michigan’s football locker room to help welcome in a new era.

First-year head coach, Shane Richardson, and his coaching staff took a break from the recruiting trail Thursday afternoon to hold an open house to discuss their renovation plans for the space.

“I was here about 21-22 years ago as a player and there wasn’t a whole lot of difference when I walked back in here,” said Richardson. “So we felt it would be great to give our players an upgrade.”

The $250,000 renovation project began in mid-march and will continue throughout the summer. Paint has been a big focus early on in the project. A base layer of green paint has been added to the walls with more details to be added later.

“We’re going to have some green inserts into the carpet to bring out some color,” said Richardson. “There will be some more coloration on the walls with some graphics, some paint, some lines with some gold into it while making sure it resembles our branding, our team colors. We’re probably going to have some slogans and team sayings that will be meaningful to us and our program.”

A new lighting system will be added to go along with the new paint to help create a better ambiance.

“It will be some lead lighting to kind of give it some color,” said Richardson. “If you ever looked at some of the bigger more expensive programs that re-did their locker rooms, you’re going to kind of see some effects in there that really give it the ‘wow’ factor.”

Current lockers will receive an upgrade and there are plans to install additional lockers to take advantage of unused space.

“We’re going to have a little bit of a facelift,” said Richardson. “We’re going to add some color around it. There will be some more green with the name tags, upgraded name tags. The front flap will look a lot different. We’re going to change that so they will have a lot more personal space to have some personal items up top.”

Each locker is currently fitted with name tags of donors to the program. Richardson said the donor tags will continue to be implemented into the new lockers being built.

Current donor name tags.
Conceptual design for modern donor tags.

“Still the same names, the same information, but with a modernized look,” said Richardson.

Richardson says the program is looking for more donors to help support the program.

“Each locker is being sold for $2,500 as a donation,” said Richardson. “It can be financed over a couple of years. Any amount is great as well, it doesn’t have to be the amount of the purchase of the locker. If you buy a locker your name will be on a locker name tag. If you don’t there will be a space where it will show people who have donated to the locker room project.”

Richardson says he hopes the new-look will help with changing the culture of the program and will give his players a space to have pride in.

“If you have a place that smells good, looks good, feels good, you’re going to be more apt to spend more time in here,” said Richardson. “I think the more that you can get players around each other, you’re advancing the mission of what NMU Football is all about. It’s all about our togetherness and being able to believe in each other understand each other, know each other, and care about each other. The more and more you can foster an environment to have players around each other and to be able to develop those relationships, all the better.”

The new locker room will represent a step into the future, but Richardson says they will not forget the rich history of the program. A prominent piece to the new locker room will be the 1975 National Championship plaque.

“We’re going to build a more modern signage around that to help commemorate that 1975 team,” said Richardson. “Our history is very successful and the tradition is great. We’ve won a national championship here and I don’t think a lot of schools can say that. It’s a great honor and something we should definitely take pride in. “

The locker room project is expected to be complete by late July just in time for training camp. If you are interested in sponsoring a locker, visit the NMU Football Website.

“I really believe in what we’re doing and I believe there is great potential here,” said Richardson. “Everything we’ve done here since January has been extremely exciting.”