Trey Ashby is a gym teacher in Papillion, Nebraska who’s been around sports his entire life. But he’s become a model of success in a different arena.
It’s been said a man is only as good as his tools. But you won’t find a hammer, drill or saw in the hands of Trey Ashby.
“I’ve tried other glue, this is the way to go,” Ashby said describing Elmer’s brand glue. “When you’re using paper, I guess it’s the way to go.”
“I have four sets of tweezers. I have a whole box of these binder clips that I use all the time to either push stuff together or can use them to stand paper up while it dries. I even use forks just to weigh stuff down and press down on something while the glue dries. I have a whole cup full of hundreds of Sharpies in all these different colors. I have tons of different rulers, 90 degree rulers, paper clips.”
There’s no super strength needed for this Nebraska gym teacher. What he builds up is the finest architecture in the sporting world, scaled down. Trey is the man behind Paper Stadiums, a hobby turned business that combines his biggest passions into a foundation that’s been adding layers since he was a kid.
“I remember I made a stadium out of paper plates,” Ashby said. “That’s the only one I can remember off the top of my head, but I know I drew probably hundreds of stadiums, I was always drawing them.”
“Growing up, I loved drawing stadiums all the time. And then eventually you mature, pay attention in class a little more, and I stopped drawing as many stadiums.”
It wasn’t until he was back in the classroom as an adult that Trey reconnected and drew inspiration from his past.
“I was walking through my school one day and I look in the recycling bin and it’s just full of all this multi-colored construction paper and it was like a lightbulb went off in my head of let’s just build a model stadium,” Ashby said.
As a native of the Cornhusker state, one of Trey’s first projects was Memorial Stadium, the home of University of Nebraska football. He shared his artwork on social media and soon realized the building known as the Sea Of Red could provide him an opportunity to ride a wave of green.
“I was going to finish Memorial Stadium and then find a new hobby or whatever. But then, the popularity on Twitter and all these people enjoying it, it was like ‘I should do another one,’ so I did Wrigley Field,” Ashby said.
“And at first, I would just auction them off, make a few bucks. And then my inbox, the more popular I got, the more people would message me requesting ‘can you make this stadium?’ And we agree on a price.”
Over the past several years, Trey’s constructed more than 40 paper stadiums. Each project takes him around 4-8 weeks to complete and he makes sure every corner, every angle, and every square inch or square meter is covered.
“I had to swallow my American pride and start using the metric system because it is easier, we have to admit it,” Ashby said.
“When I do these, a lot of times, I’m thinking like ‘when I post this on Twitter, people are going to notice if I miss something.’ So I don’t want to miss anything.”
Some of the biggest names in sports are now proud owners of Trey’s work. NASCAR asked for a model of Daytona International Speedway and the Seattle Seahawks requested a replica of Lumen Field.
The tools of Trey’s trade have built a business of buildings, where both the young and the young at heart can bond together.
“Being obsessed with stadiums as a kid, it’s kind of funny that I turned that little obsession as a 12-year-old into a full-grown hobby, something that I’m a tiny bit famous for, something that I make a good amount of extra income doing,” Ashby said.
“It’d be cool to go back and tell Trey when he was 12 years old, ‘you won’t believe what’s happening here 20 years later.’”
If you’re interested in having a paper stadium made, you can contact Trey on Twitter: @PaperStadiums.
Filed Under Midco Sports Magazine