New Friday Night Lights ‘Show’ boosting morale for Central Texas school district

Published: Sep. 13, 2023 at 12:04 PM CDT
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LITTLE RIVER-ACADEMY, Texas (KWTX) - Central Texas school district, Academy ISD, is boosting the energy in the stadium with its new multi-color, multi-setting light show.

As the Bumblebees rush into the end zone, fans roar in the stands and the stadium lights flash on and off while the stands shine with school colors, green and gold. The light show is boosting the morale of Academy ISD as the lights start dancing when the players sprint on the field and when the Bees score a touchdown.

“It’s just a basic light show,” Academy ISD Athletic Director, Jared Hunt, said. “I thought that until the first Friday night game, and it went off...I’ve never seen it with the crowd or with kids and reactions, and it was one of those moments.”

The team played at home for the first time this season Friday night, debuting the district’s new light show. As an alumni of Academy, Hunt said it is astonishing to see that the small district of less than 2,000 students can showcase features that you would see in the big leagues.

“I never thought John Glover Stadium would light up like that, and I never thought that’d be a possibility of doing something cool like that that you see on a Saturday at a college football game, and so it was pretty awesome,” he said.

The lights are controlled in the press box by just a touch of a button and settings.

“There’s a touch screen, and there’s a touchdown button,” he said. “There’s other buttons you can do. You can dark the stadium, just turn it green. You can do different things like that.”

Hunt said the reason for the light upgrade is because the district’s former stadium lights did not meet the UIL standards.

“We needed LED lights that were more energy efficient that, if they went off, they could turn right back on, not have to cool off because of the whole warm up, cool off of the old school lights,” he said.

The district worked with global lighting company, Musco Lighting, based in Iowa, and they offered the district a package that included the additional light show. Hunt said the deal was affordable and purchasing the light show effect separately in the future would have been double or triple in price.

“We went ahead and just said, ‘You know what? Let’s just go ahead and do it,’” Hunt said. “It’s not that much, not that big of a deal on what we’re doing right here, and it’s going to boost some morale.”

Hunt said, because Academy ISD is a smaller district does not mean it does not have features and advancements that larger districts have. Academy ISD is currently working on its 2021 Bond Project, building a new high school that is set to be complete in 2024.

“We’re trying to provide our kids with the best, and we say best is the standard here. And for us, we’re going to do our absolute best to provide them with everything that they need to be successful. And sometimes it’s little things that boost the morale,” he said.

Hunt said they plan to add more lighting features to games, including adding a spotlight that shines on the logo and programming lights that coordinate with the fight song.

They plan to use the light show features for soccer games and other sports at the stadium.

This is a growing trend among school stadiums throughout Texas, including Temple High School adding the light feature back in 2020. Hunt said the affordable package with the light show might encourage other districts throughout the region to add this feature to more Central Texans’ Friday Night Lights.