A new United States Flag that comes down from the Kates Gymnasium ceiling will be dedicated in a ceremony prior to the Ashland University women's and men's basketball doubleheader vs. Wayne State on Thursday (Dec. 7).
The new flag debuted in the fall during volleyball matches at The Kates, and has continued to be dropped down from the middle of the ceiling prior to home women's basketball games, men's basketball games and wrestling matches.
A plaque commemorating the Ashland American Legion Post 88's donation of the flag will be presented during the ceremony, and then will be on display in the Kates Gym main lobby. The Ashland Veterans Honor Guard also will be on hand for the ceremony.
The path toward getting a new American Flag for the gym began with Gene Haberman, a member of the board of directors for the AU women's basketball program's Fastbreak Club.
"My role was I had a conversation with (Director of Athletics) Al King after we had gone to the Findlay basketball game last year, and I saw the flag come out of the center of the court," said Haberman, who said he then talked about the possibility of the Legion getting involved with Stan Valentine, a member of the Legion's executive board and distribution committee which made the decision on the donation.
"I go to about every game I can, so I go to over half the home games for sure, about three-fourths of the home games," said Valentine, who sits with Haberman while watching the Eagles.
Valentine said he took the proposal into a meeting, and after discussing the possibility with King, Director of Sports Marketing and Promotions Rachel O'Connor and athletic department intern Bryn Campbell, it was a unanimous decision to allocate the money to buy the flag.
"It is perfect. The drop-down flag adds a modern element to our game-day experience," O'Connor said. "More importantly, I think it's a beautiful reminder of our local heroes and how blessed we are to have strong community ties.
"We couldn't be more thankful for what the American Legion Post 88 did to make this happen."
The gym's new flag has been met with positive reviews.
"I'm very impressed with it," said Haberman. "I'm very impressed with the fact that it's a conversation piece among the fans in the stands. I think it's been well-received with the people I've talked with. I couldn't be happier with the way it's turned out."
Said Valentine, "The final product is excellent. It is a great sight to see. It's a good experience. Every time I see that flag, it's something special."
And Legion Commander Ronald Dull, who comes to Eagle home games as he can and also is part of the distribution committee, said, "I was at the game when they played Notre Dame (College). I was thought it was really nice, how it came down and everything.
"We do a lot of things for the community. It was a request we thought would be really nice. That's why we went ahead and OKed the project, because we like to do things like that. We can't do everything, but we do what we can."
The doubleheader will be played at 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. on what is National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day in the United States. Veterans who attend the games will receive a free general admission ticket.