After more than a year of planning and construction,the Huckeba Field House behind First Security Stadium is complete. The new indoor football practice facility has a 133-yard field built to regulation standards, making it the largest indoor practice facility in NCAA Division II football, and one of the largest in the country on any scale. Harding University’s newest building on campus was named after longtime Harding football coach and faculty member, Ronnie Huckeba.
Greg Harnden, assistant to the athletic director, developed a friendship with Huckeba over their 33-year career at Harding together. The decision to name the new indoor practice facility came about through the love that alumni and others throughout the Harding community felt for Huckeba.
“When we name buildings, sometimes it’s because of a donor,” Harnden said, “Sometimes, it’s like Pryor Hall, named after Neale Pryor, [who] was just here forever and everybody just loved him, and basically, that’s the category that Coach Huck falls into. He’s been here forever, did a lot for the school, did a lot for the athletes [and] did a lot for the students.”
As one of the largest indoor practice facilities in the country, it is believed that the new Huckeba Field House will help Harding appeal to potential student athletes. The facility was built at close to $5.2 million, paid for by approximately 270 donors.
Tre’von Biglow, defensive line coach for the Harding football team, played football under Huckeba during his four years at Harding. He felt that the new facility would draw potential recruits to Harding because of the drive and passion of the Harding community.
“A lot of other universities and a lot of other places are building great buildings, or they’re making big changes on campus because of grants, taxes [or] the university has funded money for that,” Biglow said, “But when you see something like this, something that’s $5.2 million, and you realize that every penny is given by donors, that’s just a reminder, if I’m a student, of how special this place is. I’m in a place where people believe in what’s going on here, and they’re willing to make big sacrifices for it, which is what I think Harding is all about” Biglow said.
Finishing touches are still being added to the Huckeba Field House, such as adding graphics and completing the lobby, which will include kiosks of former Bison football players telling of the impact Harding has had on their lives. Athletic Director Jeff Morgan believes that when it is all finished, the wait will have been worth it.
“When you walk in, it’s a wow,” Morgan said, “It’s really going to tell the story of all the people who gave, and even just the past and what this program has meant to so many people: past players, past families and even current players.”