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The Echo
Taylor University, Upland, IN
Tuesday, April 16, 2024
The Echo
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Stillman Fieldhouse set to honor former player, coach

Renovations will improve facilities and athletic program

The Stillman Fieldhouse dedication, announced in the most recent University Update, is a testament to the domino-effect of generosity.

While the fieldhouse itself — located north of Turner Stadium — will be renamed to preserve the legacy of football player G. Patrick Stillman, the locker room inside will be renamed to honor the memory of Stillman’s former football coach: Bob Davenport.

When Stillman arrived at Taylor in the fall of 1958, he brought an unusual amount of talent onto the field. Recognizing Stillman’s potential to play at a higher level, Coach Davenport pushed him towards bigger things — helping Stillman secure a football scholarship that allowed him to transfer to the University of Utah and take the next big step in his athletic career. This later led to professional opportunities with minor American football leagues: the North American Football League (NAFL), Continental Football League (COFL) and the Atlantic Coast Football League (ACFL).

“It's pretty counterintuitive for a coach to send their best player away,” Vice President for University Advancement Mike Falder noted.

Davenport’s generosity so impacted Stillman, that in 2022 he reached out to Taylor — looking for a way to honor his former coach.

When Stillman died unexpectedly in the fall of 2022, plans for the project he had set in motion were temporarily paused. 

“We were alarmed — for his family alone, but for the project also,” Falder said.

However, knowing how much the project had meant to Pat, the Stillmans chose to move forward with the dedication and renovation of the athletic fieldhouse. 

The family chose not only to name the Davenport Locker Room, located inside the fieldhouse, but to provide an additional pledge to make renovations possible. While the specific dollar amount attached to this pledge has not been shared publicly, Felder notes that the naming of university facilities requires a significant financial gift.

Renovation plans include a new locker room, team meeting rooms, a football lounge, a new locker room for the men’s lacrosse team and practice space for both baseball and softball.

Taylor University’s Board of Trustees recently approved the proposed renovations, which are projected to be finished before the football team arrives for early camp this coming fall.

When considering the impact of these renovations, Falder highlighted the current state of Taylor’s football facilities and the corresponding impact the renovations will have on both present players and future recruits. 

“I think the men's football locker room is quite possibly the worst place on campus,” Falder said. “All right — if you've ever been inside of that, you would know: and not only is … the smell bad, it looks bad.”

Falder noted that the current state of Taylor’s football facilities merits critical questions about the university’s athletics and potentially damages the football program’s recruiting prospects. 

The approved renovations will help solve these issues, equipping the program to move forward effectively and care for their athletes well.

The legacy of both Stillman and Davenport is one of generosity that will tangibly impact future generations of Taylor University athletes.

“We are beyond thankful for the planned renovations of the Stillman Fieldhouse and Davenport Locker Room,” Head Football Coach Aaron Mingo said. “These spaces will honor the legacies of two men who have both profoundly impacted the TU football program in powerful ways.  These renovations will enhance our overall player experience and provide a space that communicates the level of support that the university and alumni provide to the program.  Honoring our past and stewarding the present well are core values in our program and I believe these renovations greatly support that.”

A rendering of the Stillman Fieldhouse is available for viewing; individuals interested in participating in the project’s final funding can contact Falder at mike.falder@taylor.edu