October 13, 2023
East Texas Baptist University welcomed generous donors and friends of the institution in celebration of the opening of the newly constructed Billy and Winky Foote Hall at Tiger Yard and the ETBU Tiger Ballpark during a ceremony held on Friday, October 13.
“Billy and Winky Foote met each other on this Hill and it's amazing what God sewed together and continues to bless,” ETBU President J. Blair Blackburn said. “The Footes have committed their lives to Jesus Christ, their ministry, their family, and their alma mater. Billy and Winky have sacrificially and generously invested in student scholarships and we are proud to name this facility in their honor as a tribute to their legacy. We are so grateful for their ministry, their love for the institution, their love for the Lord Jesus, and the contributions to the Kingdom they have made through their Christian spiritual leadership.”
More than 100 alumni and friends of the University contributed to the Vision for Victory, a campaign that raised funds for the creation of ETBU Tiger Ballpark at Woods Field and the construction of Billy and Winky Foote Hall at Tiger Yard.
Billy and Winky Foote Hall at Tiger Yard is a multi-purpose facility that houses loft-style student residences, the ETBU Baseball Clubhouse, and the Blue Bengal Grocery Company, ETBU’s branded micro-market grocery store that provides a vast array of foods, snack items, beverages, household essentials, and Blue Bengal merchandise for students, faculty, and staff.
“ETBU alumni and donors have rallied behind the Vision for Victory campaign to provide ETBU students and the Tiger Baseball team with outstanding facilities,” ETBU Vice President for Advancement and Administrative Affairs Scott Bryant said. “I am grateful to God for the people who gave generously to make the vision a reality. The new additions to our campus will impact Tiger students for generations to come.”
Billy and Winky Foote Hall at Tiger Yard is named in honor of former East Texas Baptist College students Billy and Winky Foote for their generous investment in institutional service, student scholarships, and campus building initiatives. ETBC brought Billy and Winky together, introduced them to life-long friends, and provided ministry training. In gratitude for God's faithfulness, Billy and Winky have provided generous financial support to ETBU throughout the years. The Footes have contributed to numerous University capital campaigns and established the Billy and Winky Foote Endowed Scholarship, which provides financial assistance to students preparing for careers in vocational ministry. Billy also gave back to the institution by serving as a member of the East Texas Baptist University Board of Trustees from 2015-2023.
"As we reflect with hearts of gratitude, it's incredible that God did more than we could ever think or dream,” Billy Foote said. “He paved the way for us to share the Gospel with countless individuals through ministry and evangelism over the years. There is no greater blessing than to serve the college that invested so much in us. God used ETBC in our lives in ways that can never be adequately expressed, which paved the way and opened numerous doors for us to carry the message of Jesus Christ. This building honors God, and it is our prayer that all the students who pass through its doors will go on to live for the cause of Christ and be a light in this dark world for Him.”
ETBU Baseball celebrated a banner year at the newly renovated ETBU Tiger Ballpark in the spring of 2023. The Tigers experienced unprecedented success on the diamond, including the ASC regular season championship followed by claiming an ASC Tournament Championship, NCAA Division III Regional Championship, and NCAA Division III Super Regional Championship at the ETBU Tiger Ballpark. The team finished in the top four at the NCAA Division III National Championship, with a 42-15 overall record.
“As I stand in this impressive facility I am reminded of our alumni who are the foundation of our baseball program,” Head Baseball Coach Jared Hood said. “Their blood, sweat, tears, heartache, and victories are cemented into these walls. They are the reason we are the program we are now, and I hope they never forget that. These facilities are going to take this program to new heights, and when it's all said and done and these young men complete their degrees, they will have lifelong friends and relationships that will never be replaced. We are so thankful for the support of our alumni, donors, and friends of the University who have made ETBU such a special place.”
The newly renovated ETBU Tiger Ballpark is one of the premier baseball facilities in NCAA Division III. The ballpark features 535 permanent seatbacks and holds up to 1,500 fans with standing-room areas. A new press box, two radio booths, and two suites were added to the stadium. Foote Hall at Tiger Yard, positioned just beyond the left field wall, is the home of the ETBU Baseball Clubhouse, locker room, coaches offices, equipment room, and recruiting room.
“It is exciting to see our baseball team, students, and fans enjoy our state-of-the-art facilities,” Vice President for Student Engagement and Athletics Ryan Erwin said. “Last spring, the new ETBU Tiger Ballpark at Woods Field allowed us all to experience an electric postseason atmosphere. We are thankful for the vision of our administration and the generosity of our alumni and friends. This addition to ETBU’s residential housing and upgrades for our baseball program will enhance the student experience now and well into the future.”
Billy Foote added, “Psalm 115:1 makes this statement “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to thy name, be all the glory because of your love and faithfulness. And so, to our Lord and Savior, to Dr. Blackburn, Dr. Scott Bryant, and to all those who had a part in making this monumental moment happen, Winky and I want to say thank you for the joy and the privilege of being a part of what God's doing and what He's doing in such wonderful ways.”