Middle TN high school coach builds Duke stadium replica in basement

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CARTHAGE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Duke University is more than 500 miles away from Middle Tennessee, but for the Sanders family, they just have to walk downstairs to be taken back to North Carolina.

In the basement of this Smith County home, you’ll find a replica of Cameron Indoor Stadium.

In between coaching at Trousdale County High School, John Sanders spent hours bringing this Duke dream to life.

“For the most part, it was like come home and work on it after practice,” Sanders said.

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Sanders said he’s been inspired by the team for years, specifically former head coach Mike Krzyzewski, also known as Coach K.

“You know he tries to make it seem and feel like, from an outsider looking in, a family type atmosphere,” Sanders said.

Growing up, Sanders loved the Chicago Bulls, and according to him, that’s where this idea actually came from.

“We were big bulls fans, so my dad had painted a Chicago Bull’s court,” he remembered.

All these years later, Sanders is paying it forward for his kids.

“That’s why I did it,” Sanders explained. “I built it for them. Obviously, I’m a Duke fan, but he is too by default.”

Quin, Sanders’ son, is certainly proud to be a Duke fan.

“I like the coaches and the players,” four-year-old Quin confidently told News 2’s Blake Eason.

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Now, the young basketball player gets to practice on the same court the Blue Devils do.

Everything inside the home gym is inspired by Cameron Indoor Stadium, including the banners that hang on the wall and a signed ball from members of the championship team, including Coach K himself.

Sanders’ hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed. The Blue Devils took to social media to share their stamp of approval.

According to him, being a die-hard Duke fan isn’t always easy in Middle Tennessee.

“It’s easier when their winning, that helps,” Sanders laughed.

But when it comes to coaching, he believes there’s something everyone can take away.

“That’s one thing I think I always liked about Coach K, he had plenty of opportunities to leave and he stayed loyal to Duke,” he explained.

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The best is yet to come as Sanders looks to expand the basement basketball court.

Sanders is proud to call Middle Tennessee home as a high school teacher and coach, but when it comes to college basketball, it’s clear this family bleeds blue.

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