Northwestern Oklahoma State University

Northwestern Oklahoma State University

Northwestern Oklahoma State University

Northwestern Oklahoma State University

Northwestern Oklahoma State University

Northwestern Oklahoma State University

Northwestern Oklahoma State University

Northwestern Oklahoma State University

Northwestern Oklahoma State University

Blending Past With Present: Graphics Showcase Athletic History at Northwestern Oklahoma State

by Kevin Hoffman, Managing Editor of Coach & AD Magazine. Nov/Dec 2014

Change is never easy, and that’s especially true for college athletic programs jumping to a higher division. Competition gets stiffer, crowds are bigger and facilities must be upgraded to accommodate the growth. 

Sometimes that creates a whole new identity.

Northwestern Oklahoma State University in Alva, Oklahoma, is in the final year of its transition to NCAA Division II from the NAIA. Ryan Kaiser, associate director of athletics, describes the cultural shift as one that’s brought a lot of excitement to campus, but the road has been a long one. After preparing and adjusting to life in Division II for more than three years, the Rangers are close to taking the full plunge.

Programs making this type of move are permitted to compete against Division II teams, but they’re subjected to a three-year probationary period before they are postseason eligible. The Rangers become full members beginning in September 2015.

“That’s been the carrot or light at the end of the tunnel in this process,” Kaiser said.

Among the improvements are modifications to the university’s facilities, where campus officials hope to create an environment better suited for its future ambitions. At the same time, they want to recognize the Rangers’ rich history, which includes national championships and individual standouts. 

There was a way to achieve this, and the university reached out to to make its idea become a reality. One of its most recent projects was decorating the weight room walls with images paying homage to the university’s athletic program. 

“We wanted to put our brand on it and worked with football staff and athletic administration to come up with a concept of what we wanted to do,” Kaiser said. “We basically looked through all our athletic stuff and wanted to blend the past with the present, adding old faces with some new faces as we make the transition.” 

That’s where it all started, with staff and administration working together on a theme for the upgraded facilities. Kaiser said coaches were encouraged to provide input on what they wanted to see in their respective areas, but the program wanted the “past and present” theme to echo across campus. Northwestern Oklahoma State had a lot of success in the NAIA, and the university didn’t want to brush that aside. 

Kaiser said did a remarkable job taking the ideas and bringing them to life, with graphics and skins that now adorn several of the university’s walls. The project didn’t come with many challenges but it still required significant care and precision to make sure everything went according to plan. When you’re dealing with banners, graphics or other signs, that means measurements must be spot on. 

“When you’re trying to measure an entire room you can’t be off by a whole lot,” Kaiser said. “Some of the challenges were figuring out how to divide up a room. In the fieldhouse, there are walls that come out and we have to figure out how to navigate around that area.” 

Northwestern Oklahoma State didn’t have much trouble financing the project, which typically becomes an issue for athletic programs embarking on major renovations. Kaiser said the school sits in the middle of an oil rich region of Oklahoma, and some of those profits have found their way to the university in the form of gifts. 

Projects still pending include a $2.6 million press box and at the end of the football season new athletic turf will be installed at the stadium. The plan is to have everything completed in time for the program’s full transition in Division II next fall. 

Those pieces of the project that have been finished are already impressing student-athletes. Kaiser said the biggest impact is recruiting, with prospective athletes now able to visit upgraded facilities that are a lot more impressive than outdated weight rooms and locker rooms. 

These types of projects are never easy, but Kaiser said the support and contributions the department received from the community and those in the athletic program helped move things along smoothly. 

That’s undoubtedly important in renovations, but Kaiser cautions other schools underdoing similar projects to ask questions and develop an overall theme, especially when it comes to graphics and signage that will be seen by everyone in the athletic program. 

“There are so many different types of projects out there and each one is unique,” he said. “Develop a comprehensive theme. We wanted to honor those who came before us, but we also wanted to recognize that we’re headed in a new direction and there is light at the end of the tunnel.” 

Locker Room Renovation

A Lasting Legacy: Graphics honor past, present athletes at Northwestern Oklahoma

by Coach & AD Magazine. May/June 2015

Northwestern Oklahoma State University last year made a number of improvements to its weight room and football facilities, and now other teams want in on the action.

Ryan Kaiser, associate director of athletics, said the university is upgrading its men’s basketball locker room with graphics, similar to what was done last year with the football program. Previous improvements impressed coaches so much, they wanted to have something of their own.

“We really liked what was done at the field house, looking specifically in the weight room with and the work that they did,” Kaiser said.

“Our basketball coach … he wanted to touch up his locker room and see what they could do with their graphics.”

Northwestern Oklahoma State in Alva, Oklahoma, underwent a number of improvements in 2014 as it makes the transition to NCAA Division II from the NAIA. Graphics and skins were added to some of its facilities, embracing a “past with present” theme that honored some of the alumni and star athletes that have passed through its doors.

The men’s basketball program would seem to be a natural fit. Former pro Gaylon Nickerson and Slade Young, who is now a high school basketball coach in the state, are among those worthy of a lasting legacy.

Kaiser said the plan was to emblazon the locker room walls with images of those athletes, along with those presently with the team to give players pride in the program.

“We wanted to honor those guys that had come before and put their names and faces on the wall for the guys that came in here,” Kaiser said. “We really want to take care of this and be as big time as we can.”

Northwestern Oklahoma State becomes a full member of Division II in September. Teams are already approved to face opponents at that level, but postseason opportunities aren’t awarded until the completion of a three-year probationary period, mandatory for all programs making the transition.

Last year, Kaiser said the university planned to upgrade its press box, and following the football season new athletic turf was to be installed at the stadium. Moving up means the program needs to get on par with schools in its new division.

Work with the football facilities is ongoing, and men’s basketball is now on the radar. Kaiser said they would explore upgrading the women’s basketball locker room, as the skins and graphics provided by seem to have a contagious effect that make programs want something of their own.

It’s not a brand new arena or a highdefinition scoreboard, but Kaiser said the minor improvements still have a major impact. It’s not always about how much you spend, rather the meaning behind what’s done. Student-athletes like to see that the institution recognizes those that contribute to the program.

It also means a lot to recruiters, who have a something more to show off when potential student-athletes visit.

“You gotta make it big time where you are,” Kaiser said. “Just the thousands we spend to get these skins on the wall have made a big difference. Kids want to know where they’re going to sleep and where they’re going to call their locker room. If you can provide an opportunity to come in and look at an area they can call their own, that’s going to gain you respect.”

As for the work itself, Northwestern Oklahoma had been down this road before, so the logistical challenges that often come with renovations or upgrades were minimized. Kaiser said the biggest hurdle in addressing the men’s basketball locker room was the textured walls that needed to be sanded down before the skins could go up.

Work on the locker room wasn’t started until the end of February, as the athletic department wanted to wait until the season was winding down. Those that have managed to see the final product are impressed by what’s been done.

“The proof is in the pudding,” Kaiser said. “We feel it only benefitted us by being able to put that type of material up there, but there’s just not a lot of graphics that look like ours. Guys feel good about where they’re able to hang their hats.”

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