Youth football players in Union will have nicer digs to prepare for games this season.
Volunteers recently painted murals in the football shed the Union Jr. Wildcat football league uses at Union Middle School. Above the entrance is the word “Respect,” the league’s motto, along with wildcat claw marks and the Union Wildcat logo.
On another wall is a silhouette of four football players lined up beside one another in front of a red background.
The murals are the work of Al Howland; his son, Lucas Howland; and Zoe Meyer, who, along with Lucas, is a 2021 Union High School graduate. Al Howland designed the murals, and the group painted them.
The room, where team uniforms and equipment are kept and teams watch game film, had seen better days, said Al Howland’s sister Carrie Frederich, the league’s secretary and a player mother.
“It was extremely outdated,” Frederich said. “So I contacted Al. I know he loves to paint.”
They chose a design from several that Al Howland created.
The Jr. Wildcat league has 97 players in third through sixth grades. Frederich said the improvements were the idea of Marvin Crawford, the league’s president and a coach in the league. “He really is passionate about little league football,” she said. “He believes in vamping everything up in here, because it will set off a positive vibe — a little pizzazz, if you will.”
The project took the painters more than 30 hours of work, all volunteered, in the July heat.
Along with the painting, the football shed got some new shelving to store equipment. It was installed by Stephen Baxter, a sixth grade coach in the league.
The changes have made a major difference, said sixth grade player Wyatt Erb, 11. “It was completely black,” he said of the room’s previous appearance.
After the 2021 football season this fall, Al Howland plans to paint another mural with Roman-style columns, showing all the championships won by league teams. Plans call for a mural on the building’s exterior in the future.