Tech Tidbits: Leon’s Lounge Symbolizes Progress

Kyle Shipp Leon Anderson Jamie Sorrells Abby Davis
Photographed (from left-to-right): Kyle Shipp, Arkansas Tech University head football coach; Leon Anderson, namesake for Leon's Lounge at ATU; Jamie Sorrells, ATU alumnus and lead benefactor for the Leon's Lounge project; and Abby Davis, ATU director of athletics.

There’s a kinship between Kyle Shipp and Leon Anderson.

It’s not just because they both grew up in the Arkansas River Valley and went on to play football at Arkansas Tech University. It’s not just because they are the last two graduates of ATU to serve as head football coach at their alma mater (Anderson from 1976-79 and Shipp from 2019-present).

It goes deeper than that…to an authentic humanity and quality of character that I gained a better understanding of this week when I asked Kyle about the dedication of Leon’s Lounge in the Hull Physical Education Building this weekend.

I expected him to talk about the recruiting advantages (I peeked on Wednesday; it’s really nice in there) and how Leon’s Lounge will bring his team closer together. Kyle went deeper.

“Coach Anderson was in a really interesting time as head coach,” said Shipp. “There were changes as far as minorities coming into football, and he was a big part of that. He cared about that and those young men. It was a hard and trying time, but he was a pioneer. He loved those young men, so to me it’s a very fitting thing to honor Leon in this way. In today’s football, that’s who we are now. We have the football program we have now because we had a man like him leading it who didn’t care about your skin color…he cared about who you are. It’s important that we honor him and his family. I’m always proud to say I know Leon Anderson.”

Leon’s Lounge will be dedicated at 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 9, in the Hull Physical Education Building. The public is invited to attend.

It’s part of what will be a busy Saturday afternoon and evening at Arkansas Tech. Party at the Plaza, the pre-game tailgating celebration outside the stadium on Centennial Plaza, will begin at 3 p.m. Col. John G. Buerkle Berm will be dedicated at 4 p.m. in the north end zone of Simmons Bank Field at Thone Stadium. Those events are also open to the public.

It will all lead up to a 6 p.m. kickoff for the Arkansas Tech Wonder Boys (0-1) and the Southern Nazarene Crimson Storm (0-1). Game tickets are available at

The outcome of the game could easily come down to ATU’s ability to contain SNU quarterback Gage Porter, who was voted GAC offensive player of the year in 2022 after leading the league in rushing (159.2 yards per game).

Porter rushed for 219 yards and three touchdowns against the Wonder Boys last year, but a plus-3 turnover margin helped Arkansas Tech earn a 48-35 victory over the Crimson Storm.

“He runs downhill really well and he throws the ball well enough to scare you,” said Shipp when asked about Porter. “He’s the guy who makes the engine turn for them. I don’t think you’re ever going to contain him all the way. We have to limit the big plays by Gage. I think if we can do that on the defensive side and we can get things rolling on offense, it can be a great night.”

Live coverage of the ATU-SNU game will be available on KCJC 102.3 FM, and the EAB Media Group app.

Talk to you on the radio.

Tech Tidbits is a column written by Sam Strasner, ATU director of university relations and radio play-by-play voice for ATU football and basketball.