July 15, 2009
STARKVILLE -- Sharon Fanning didn''t know where to begin.
There was no official starting point for the Mississippi State women''s basketball coach because everything in the program''s new locker room in Humphrey Coliseum begged to bragged about and to be touched.
There were murals, pictures, and plaques on the walls to honor former and current Lady Bulldogs.
There were all the accouterments (a Wii, a Playstation, a pool table, three computers, a television, a kitchenette, a stereo system and more) any student-athlete would love to have available to them.
A new locker room, team room, bathroom, mechanical room, and equipment room completed the 3,000-square foot jewel Fanning unveiled Tuesday to members of the team''s booster club and to the media.
"I want to wish a special thanks to everyone who has been a part of making it a reality," Fanning said. "You have to start with the players. They have been the ones who have been on the floor and who have worked to get the people interested in the team."
Fanning said the new locker room, which is named after Mary Evelyn Maxwell, has been in the works for two to three years. Finishing touches, including name plates to recognize benefactors of the program that will be placed on each locker, are still being made to the project, which cost is approximately $600,000.
Fanning anticipates an official ribbon cutting ceremony for the locker room will happen next month.
"Wen everybody walks in it is basicall, ''Wow,'' " Fanning said. "I think all of the players realzie how much had to given for this to happen and that it is something very special and something they need to take care of."
Robert and Linda Sanford, Steve and Patsy Fowlkes Brandon, Jim and Bobbie Higgins, Bill Baker, David Remy, the Lady Bulldog Basketball Booster Club, and MSU M Club Alumni Association are just some of the individuals and organizations recognized in the team''s new home.
The locker room has a mural on the right wall that features former All-Americans LaToya Thomas and Tan White at either end. The players rank first and second, respectively, on the program''s all-time scoring list.
Pictures of all of MSU''s postseason teams hang on the wall between them.
Fanning thanked everyone who has donated to and who has worked to complete the new locker room. She said the "first-class" facility reflects the commitment the administration has to women''s basketball.
"Several people stepped up when there had to be significant commitments made for this to be a reality," Fanning said. "The thanks go out to everyone for their support, encouragement, and their patience, and for the administrative support to make this happen in a very special way. I think this is a facility the university can be very proud of."
MSU is coming off a 23-10 season in which it advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament.
Last month, the State College Board, Institutions of Higher Learning approved a four-year contract that will pay Fanning $230,000 per year. The new contract will keep Fanning at MSU through the 2012-2013 season.
The locker room is just another piece of the puzzle Fanning hopes will help her program convince top recruits Starkville is the place for them.
"From a recruiting standpoint, it''s first class," Fanning said. "Success breeds success. The young ladies who are on the wall had a lot to do with this facility being here. I think it is proper recognition for them. The other pictures are of the postseason teams. That is why this facility is here."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.