Since the opening of the new Ryan Fieldhouse, athletes and fans alike have marveled at the picture-perfect landscape. The impeccable lake and skyline views makes looking out of the 44-foot-tall windows beyond the east end zone astounding.
But what the structure actually contains has been overlooked by its location — and its substance may be just as impressive as its appearances.
Although the building totals an immense 96,135 square feet, senior cornerback Montre Hartage praised the ease the facility has created in helping the athletes get from one point of training to another. “The convenience and the accessibility to get from the meeting rooms to the weight rooms, just little things like that are so impactful” Hartage said.
Potential future Wildcats have taken notice.
“Recruits want to see that the University has made an investment to them, facilities is one of those areas,” coach Pat Fitzgerald said. “It’s become a check of the box; you either have them or you don’t.”
Aside from the clear benefits from a recruiting standpoint, the state-of-the-art accommodations have an immediate benefit as well.
“There’s guys we can get to campus that we wouldn’t have been able to before, but recruiting is one thing, more importantly [it’s about] the day-to-day for our guys.” Fitz said. “That’s what we centered this whole thing around, everything was about the players.”
Additions such as the 87-foot dome — configured with the consideration of punting and kicking trajectories in mind — may seem insignificant. But that, as well as the facility’s other meticulous components, shows that it was constructed with the “difference is in the details” mindset.
First @NUFBFamily recruiting tour in the books! Incredible film & even more impressive family.— Todd McShane (@TheToddMcShane) July 25, 2018
Needless to say, they were blown away by Walter Athletics Center. Who wouldn’t be?? Everything you need under one roof! pic.twitter.com/F3CK07HGVn
The weight room and field facilities are certainly impressive, but the vast expanse of lounge spaces, academic services and team meetings rooms all directly on campus — rather than the previous mile away — make a lesser-known but just as substantial impact.
“The new facility is definitely a game changer,” senior Nate Hall said. “To walk into a facility like that and know that you have every resource available to you is incredible.”
The linebacker has been recovering from a knee injury which occurred at the end of last season and has taken notice of the assets the new facility provides. “It gives you that comfort to know that you have nothing to worry about in terms of resources and equipment to one, get healthy and two, practice to perform at the best of your abilities,” Hall said.
As for the upcoming season, senior quarterback Clayton Thorson believes the facility has given the team an added advantage and further motivation.
“It does a lot for us, it’s cool to see guys want to come in and do extra work, watch extra film,” Thorson said. “I think it’s going to make us a better football team in the end.”