The “Hilltopper Halls of History” around the Stansbury Concourse on the second level of WKU’s E.A. Diddle Arena is nearing completion.
A museum celebrating the first century of intercollegiate athletics on The Hill, the “Hilltopper Halls of History” has been a work in progress for more than two years and will be completed in the spring. However, the vast majority of the work has been completed and is available to Diddle Arena visitors whenever the building is open.
There are displays in the second-level Food Court (the “old lobby”) of The Arena and from there Topper fans can explore more than 140 cases along the Stansbury Concourse with display panels full of photos and highlights of the tradition-rich history of Hilltopper athletics from 1910 through 2010.
“In 1970 I was a country boy from Monroe County and I can’t tell you how much pride I had when I would put that Western Kentucky University jersey on,” said Gary Bowman (Class of 1974), the lead donor for the project and a member of the 1970-71 Hilltopper basketball freshman team. “I just thought it was important to do something to showcase our athletes, all of our athletes.”
When completed, the “Halls of History” will also include kiosks where fans can use the touch-screens to locate photos of their favorite Topper teams and athletes.
At Thursday’s (Feb. 21) men’s basketball game with Sun Belt Conference rival Louisiana-Monroe, WKU will recognize the lead donors of the project, Gary Bowman and his wife, Julie, along with the Alumni W-Club, for their efforts in making the “Hilltopper Halls of History” a reality.
Bowman’s interest in the project and generous financial support were key factors in the W-Club’s ambitious fund-raising campaign, the first of its kind for the organization of former Hilltopper letterwinners in its 85-year history. The project is entirely funded from private dollars raised by the W-Club.
“As a former athlete, to walk through these halls and look at the decades and see the sweat, the tears, all the victories and some of the defeats, it’s just hair-raising to me,” said Mike Montgomery (Football, 1993-94), the current president of the Alumni W-Club.
Tip-off is at 7 p.m. (CST) and the ceremony is set for halftime of the game.
Also at halftime, Hilltopper athletics will recognize Wes Strader, the longtime “Voice of the Hilltoppers,” for his more than four decades of work behind the mic covering Hilltopper basketball and football.
Other comments on the Hilltopper Halls of History:
- Bryan Baysinger (Men’s Golf 1989-92), former president of the W-Club — “The greatest pride I take is when I’m at a basketball game walking around the concourse and see a parent with a child. They’re reading the wall and the parent is pointing something out they did or saw while they were here. It’s teaching a lesson.”
- Brent Price (Class of 1981), the graphic artist for the project — “Museum design is really a lot about storytelling. We were able to take these stories and actually bring them to life.”
- Paul Just (Sports Information staff 1966-to date) — “This project would never have gotten off the ground without the generosity of Gary Bowman and the scores of others — former Topper athletes and fans alike — who provided the financial support to make it happen!”
Contact: Michael Schroeder, (270) 745-4298.