June 18, 2014 at 2:00pm

About the Project

  • Cost for turf project is $1.75 million.
  • Includes installation of field lighting and resurfacing the track. A high-definition video scoreboard and sound system will also be added, both financed by advertising dollars.
  • Completion set for fall 2014.
  • After renovations, the field will also serve as the home field for soccer teams and as a practice facility for the softball and baseball teams.
  • Field originally dedicated Oct. 17, 1987, and named in memory of Decatur business leader and media owner Frank M. Lindsay.

Millikin broke ground this May on a new artificial turf playing surface for Frank M. Lindsay Field, scheduled for completion in time for the first home football game against Aurora University at 6 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 27. The last major upgrade to the field was more than 15 years ago. Donations to the project from alumni and friends of the university have included numerous gifts to name various areas of the field in honor or memory of individuals, including large areas in honor of two former outstanding MU football coaches and alumni. The blue end zones will be named in honor of the late Don Shroyer '€™50 of Decatur, and the visitors sideline in honor of Carl Poelker '€™68 of Breese, Ill.

Carl Poelker '€™68 coached at Mil- likin for 27 years, beginning in 1968. In his 13 years as head football coach, from 1982-95, he posted an 88-39-1 coaching record, won two CCIW championships and set the record for the most football coaching wins in MU history. Millikin elected him to the university'€™s Athletic Hall of Fame in 1981. Poelker was also a three-year letterwinner in football as an MU student, earning National Association of Inter- collegiate Athletics (NAIA) all-district honors as a defensive lineman during his senior year. After graduation, he earned a master'€™s degree in physical education at Illinois State University before returning to Millikin to coach.

Poelker left the Big Blue in 1995 to revive the football program at McKendree University (then McKendree College). The program had been dissolved in 1950. As the new head coach, he established a team that earned a national ranking in only its second season. In his 14 years as their coach, the team achieved seven Midwest League titles and nine playoff appearances, and Poelker was recognized in 2002 as NAIA Football Coach of the Year. Poelker was also selected as the 1997 Schutt Sports/NAIA Coach of the Year by American Football Quarterly magazine and named MSFA Midwest League Coach of the Year in 1999 and 2002. He retired in 2012 with a 117-60 record at McKendree.

He'€™s '€œone of Millikin'€™s great players and coaches,'€ says John Manner '€™67, a former player for Poelker who served as the team'€™s co-captain his senior year. In honor of his positive impact on Big Blue football, Poelker will be honored at a dinner on Saturday, Oct. 11, during Homecoming weekend.

Remembering Coach Don Shroyer '50

Editor's note: Coach Don Shroyer '€™50, who died July 7, 2013, led the Big Blue football team from 1956-62. See page 42 for more information. The text on this page is excerpted from a eulogy given by one of his former players, Ryan Jorstad '€™62, at the coach'€™s funeral. Jorstad played on the celebrated 1961 undefeated football team coached by Shroyer.

'€œBy definition, a legacy is what you leave to others when you'€™re gone. What about Don Shroyer's legacy? Fifty-two years later, we all still call him Coach and will do so forever. So what legacy did Coach leave? Well, he was happily married for 62 years, which is quite an example to set. He had four successful kids who are also just good people. He also was blessed with five impressive grandkids. And he had a successful career doing what he loved.

Those things collectively are a proud legacy. But Coach left much more. He believed in the basics of football. You won by hitting harder and being in better shape than your opponents so you could hit them longer than they hit you. Despite the simplicity of his football approach, he taught us how to handle the complexities of life during and after football. Here are 12 key life lessons he taught us.

  1. Be a good teammate. There's no sport more dependent on team play than football. The greatest athlete in the world will look very bad if the other 10 players on his team do not do their jobs. How valuable a lesson is this in your workplace and in your marriage?
  2. Be physically fit. We won games because we were in better shape than our opponents. Look at the obesity problem America has now. When we had our 50-year reunion two years ago, there was only one overweight person there, and that was due to medication issues.
  3. Strive for perfection. We repeated drills' running basic plays over and over until we ran them perfectly.
  4. Be disciplined. The worst chewing out I ever saw Coach give anyone was right after a reserve running back had just run 45 yards for a touchdown. He grabbed the young man by the shoulder pads, got about four inches from his face and told him he had run around the end for the touchdown when the play had called for him to run between the guard and tackle. Coach told him if he ever did that again, he would never play another down for him.
  5. Be dedicated. End of season? The next day begins the next season. There's always weight lifting, etc. He told us that we may lose a game, but it should never be because we didn't work or try hard enough.
  6. Be respectful. Coach taught us to respect the other team, your teammates, your coaches and the game. No hotdogging. If you scored a touchdown or made a big hit, you put the ball down and went back to your huddle like you'd done the same thing thousands of times before.
  7. Be humble. Coach kept us from getting too high on ourselves so we always had a hunger to do better.
  8. Show love. Our team has had a reunion every five years because of the feelings we never lost for our team and our Coach.
  9. Be confident. Coach made us feel we could win every game we played, even when we were very young and really not that good. We learned that unless you are confident in your preparation and ability, your chances of winning at anything are not very good.
  10. Be resilient. When you get knocked down, get up with more wisdom and resolve than before. Get up quick and '€˜get after it!'€™
  11. It's OK to laugh. Laughter is more than OK '€“ except for a while after a loss.
  12. Find your passion. You will not do all the things I just listed unless you have a passion for what you'€™re doing. If you don'€™t have a passion, get out and find it.

Once the Shroyer formula had been applied to our team, we ended up with one state senator, one school principal, two doctors, three attorneys, 24 businessmen and no one in jail! If each of his players could have talked with him one last time, they would have said something like this: '€"I love you, Coach. Thank you so much for teaching me how to be a good man.'€™'€

By Ryan Jorstad '62