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RHS baseball locker room gets golden makeover

Russellville baseball head coach Chris Heaps said when he first arrived in Russellville in 2012, he urged his players to be uncommon to achieve an uncommon result. On top of the Golden Tigers’ three consecutive state championships under Heaps, the uncommon team now has an uncommon locker room to match.

The changes to the locker room began in December, with Creative Graphics out of Birmingham being drafted to help achieve the look Heaps had in mind. The changes were strictly aesthetic, but Heaps said he believes the positive impact it will have on his program will be monumental.

“Every year we do one major capital improvement,” Heaps said. “There’s a lot of different things that we’ve done, but we feel like this is the best things we’ve done. I feel like it’s culture, and I don’t think anything is more important than the culture of a program. Culture is bigger than the players or any of the parents because I feel like culture is what drives your results.”

Upon entering the locker room, the walls that used to be painted a plain gold and white are now covered with reminders of monumental moments in Golden Tiger history, with the first wall boasting the phrase “We is greater than me.”

“We wanted that to be the first thing players see when they come in because I believe that everything else is just a byproduct of believing in that,” Heaps said.

The first picture players see when entering the locker room is the dog pile from the first Russellville state championship, and another picture is of a former player’s three-run homerun because of the technique the picture shows off.

Several other monumental pictures cover the walls, but Heaps said he thinks his favorite area is the state championship wall.

Like the rest of the pictures and logos covering the walls, the pictures of the state championship teams are vinyl designs heated to be permanently on the wall. The wall features the three-consecutive state championships the Golden Tigers won in 2015, 2016 and 2017, and the state runner-up in 2018, with the year above each picture.

“We were originally going to put the year in black and gold, but I told him I wanted the year to be in blue and white to represent blue maps, and the runner-up year is in red and white,” Heaps said.

Over by the trophy case, another wall heralds the name of each All-American and All-State player in Russellville’s history. Heaps said they already have to make one addition with a 2019 All-State player’s name being added to the list, and he hopes to have to make additions often.

“It just gives them something to shoot for because you want your name on that all-state wall or you want your team picture on that state championship wall,” Heaps said.

Heaps said the area above the lockers used to have banners with sayings on them, but those have been replaced with some of Heaps’ favorite sayings permanently added to the walls.

“I had one of our former moms in here the other day to see the locker room, and she saw the sayings at the top and said, ‘You know what’s funny is, I’ve heard you say every single one of those, and my son says them too,” Heaps said.

As to his players’ reactions to the changes, Heaps said his team knew he was changing things in the locker room but did not know how big the changes would be.

“They were so excited when they saw everything,” Heaps said. “They all had their phones out videoing it and sending it to their friends. It’s just very exciting for everybody because we are all very proud of what we have here.”

Heaps said a few additions are still forthcoming, with the pictures of the 5A player of the year for 2016 and 2017 season being added, and he has left plenty of room for expansion for future success he expects to see in the program.

“I think you have to expect success, and in order to do that, you have to earn it,” Heaps said. “We expect to be uncommon, with an uncommon attitude and an uncommon work effort.”

The Golden Tigers began their season last week with an away game against Hartselle.