IRVING -- The excitement was high in Irving Schools Stadium as the MacArthur Cardinals and their supporters gathered for Friday’s Homecoming game.

The players were on point. Everyone in the stands was eager.

A bit of a surprise before the start of the game provided a special moment that kept everyone in the stadium anxious.

“The Board of Trustees has renamed Irving Schools Stadium the Joy & Ralph Ellis Stadium,” a booming voice announced over loud speakers. Thunderous applause followed that announcement.

That moment, that message, was a major surprise for Joy and Ralph Ellis, who stood center field.

Joy and Ralph Ellis

“Well it’s just unbelievable,” said Ralph Ellis. “I mean we had no idea anything like this was happening.”

The Ellis’ names will now mark the stadium. It was a special recognition for a local couple who has been spending the past 40 years donating money and scholarships to Irving ISD student athletes.

"That’s really something, to have something that big named after us," Joy Ellis said.

The Ellis’ children graduated from Irving ISD. The philanthropists have been giving four four-year scholarships to students each year.

Superintendent Jose Parra says many of the gifts have come from anonymous donations.

"What that means for us simply is this: Students have opportunities that maybe they wouldn’t have had otherwise," he said.

The Ellises call the renaming of the stadium a special surprise. They say their message to students is to persevere and never give up.