Marshall football memorial statue rededicated


Zach Hiser

The statue is now located outside of the Rec Center on the 20th street side.

A Marshall University football memorial statue was installed in a new location on campus after restoration.  

Robin Howell of the Marshall Football Memorial said over the past 50 years, the original sculpture has become a symbol of hope for the entire Marshall family and Huntington community.  

“The crouching football player sculpture was created by artist Vernon Howell, Marshall graduate and former co-captain of the 1958-59 Marshall football team, as part of a class he took while supplementing his master’s degree. It was crafted from the steel bars from his children’s old playset,” said Howell. “Metal artist Mike Sizemore of Mountain Artworks Studio in Athens, West Virginia repaired, replaced and restored the damaged sections of the original sculpture. He also powder-coated the steel using the Marshall University color scheme, making the sculpture look brand new and able to withstand the elements.” 

The new statue is located near the Rec Center, directly across from the Joan C. Edwards Stadium.  

“The base of the memorial was reconstructed earlier by Jason Kirby of Kirby’s Masonry who donated his time and materials. Mr. Kirby’s son and daughter are current students at Marshall, and the marble name plaques are from the original memorial,” Howell said.  

Howell also said Vernon Howell donated the sculpture to the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity to establish the memorial.  

“The Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity lost five brothers in the plane crash that devastated the Marshall football team: starting quarterback Ted Shoebridge, and offensive linemen Jim Adams, Mike Blake, Pat Norrell, and Bob Patterson,” said Howell. “1970 PKA John Bodo designed the original memorial to honor his fraternity brothers and their teammates lost in the crash. Marshall graduate and former PKA Jacob Roman, currently president of the Huntington Estate Planning Council, worked tirelessly with the local and national Pi Kappa Alpha organizations to get the memorial donated and ownership transferred to Marshall University.” 

Due to the ongoing pandemic, Howell said the sculpture’s ceremony was slightly different than normal. 

“Due to COVID-19 restrictions and a larger-than-anticipated response, the ceremony [was] presented online only,” said Howell. “Members of the public who want to attend the ceremony [were] asked to do so virtually.” 

Howell also said that Jack Lengyel dedicated the original memorial in 1971. 

“Head coach Jack Lengyel, who resurrected the Marshall football program after the crash, dedicated the original memorial in 1971, stating that the crouching football player represented the spirit of the new football squad and that, ‘We’re rising off the ground for the season ahead,’” said Howell. “We are very grateful to Marshall President Jerome Gilbert and Sr. Vice President of Operations Brandi Jacob-Jones for everything they did to make this happen and save a piece of Marshall history.” 

Carson Mckinney can be contacted at [email protected]