May 30, 2012
LOGAN, Utah -
USU Athletics Director Scott Barnes, men's basketball sophomore guard Preston Medlin, football head coach Gary Andersen and USU President Stan Albrecht spoke at Wednesday's ground-breaking ceremony for the new Strength & Conditioning Center.
UTAH STATE ATHLETICS DIRECTOR Scott Barnes
"Ladies and gentlemen, thank you so much for being here. It's another truly great day to be an Aggie as we celebrate the ground-breaking for our new strength and conditioning center. There are lots of folks in the audience we want to acknowledge today, but first of all, on behalf of nearly 400 student-athletes, our coaches and our staff, we want to welcome you here today. It's an important next step as we continue to build Aggie athletics. Thank you for being here.
"Let me acknowledge some of our guests along with some of our head coaches I see sitting in the audience. President Albrecht and his wife, Joyce, thank you for being here. Our executive vice president, Provost Ray Coward, a former college point guard, he's always right there in the middle of it, so thank you. VP for Finance, Dave Cowley, we appreciate all his support, along with Annette Herman-Harder, our COO of University of Advancement.
"We have some student-athletes here, four of which will actually be involved in today's dig. McKade Brady from football, Pua Furtado from women's basketball, Josselyn White from volleyball and Preston Medlin, who you'll hear from later, from men's basketball.
"I'm really excited about the team we put together for this project. It's the perfect team with tremendous experience. Let me identify a few of those team leaders at this point. First of all, our contractor, Spindler Construction - representing them is Gary `I'm always on time and under budget' Stevens. Spindler and Gary were point on the Laub Complex. Obviously, we love the product that came through that. We have our design team, including Jill Jones of AJC, and James Meyers is a consultant for the design team. In addition, the on-campus support; the lead architect Tom Graham, both Charles Darnell, associate VP over university facilities, and Ben Berrett, the director of Planning, Design and Construction, thank you for your partnership; we appreciate you very much.
"A couple other points here in the Athletics Department. First of all, the man I've asked to oversee the day-to-day responsibilities is our Senior Associate AD, Dale Mildenberger. And how can we move this project forward without having the nose of our Head Strength and Conditioning Coach, Evan Simon.
"You know, this project is a long time coming. The notion of a new strength and conditioning center has been talked about for over a decade. The way to drive it home is with a conversation I had about a week ago. I was on the third floor of the Laub Complex with our Assistant Director of Academic Services, Jason Thomas, a former Aggie football player. I was in his office and his window looks right out on the site. He was giddy and excited, so I asked him to tell me about his excitement. He said that as a student-athlete when he was being recruited back in the Mick Dennehy era, on the list of things he would have enjoyed was a strength and conditioning center. He entered the program here in 2001, and he's still here. So he gets to enjoy it; we're excited by that.
"Let me share with you a little bit on the magnitude of this project, both in terms of its impact on our program, and I'll be short in that regard, but I'd like to talk about the funding of the building and its impact, specifically as it relates to the Mountain West Conference. Many of you know that we received the largest gift in the history of Utah State intercollegiate athletics, $4.5 million as the lead gift. That gift is anonymous, but I do want to say to that donor and his family, again, just how grateful we are. In terms of timing, it's incredible. We were right in the middle of courting the Mountain West Conference and working toward entrance. One of the things that both their conference commissioner and their board of trustees was interested in was the trajectory of the program: growth, investment and stability. One of the measuring sticks of that was, `What have you done lately?' Our ability to announce a $4.5 million gift, and `Oh by the way, this project is fully funded along with two other $1 million gifts alongside,' was a very important statement that we were able to make. There were certainly lots of variables in their decision, some that we didn't have control over, but the notion of announcing this project is fully funded through private donations and would be open very soon, was an important part of moving that forward. So again, on behalf of 400 student-athletes, we thank the donors for their tremendous support.
"Let me talk to you about what the heck we're building. You all know where it's going to be built; you can see that. What is it comprised of? First of all, it's 21,000 square-feet. In terms of benchmarking that against other schools in the Mountain West, forget about it. We're doubling everything else. This project will be benchmarked against some of the best in the nation in both size and quality. That's quite a statement, one we're very proud of. It's a $6.4 million project. The design team came up with the notion as they looked at the elements including the gray. They came up with a three-story design. When you talk to our coaches, I think we hit a home run in terms of programing aspects. The first floor will be parking lot level, and that will contain most of the services - mechanical, electrical, IT. There will be restrooms, an elevator, as well as some ticket operations. We felt like we needed to upgrade that since this is one of the primary entrances to the stadium. There will be some extra space for which we'll determine the use. It could be additional training space, a storage area, maybe an Aggie apparel shop. We'll study that as we open this the first year and look at all the specifics around that. You walk into the second floor and it's absolutely dramatic. It's an open concept with all the strength and condition equipment there that looks up to the third floor. Along the way we've added some things that are cutting edge. One is an incline training ramp that will move from the second to the third floor. It will be covered in synthetic turf. As you move to the third floor, there will be offices, a sprint-training area, aerobic exercise equipment and an unbelievable view. If our student-athletes ever take a chance to look up from the weights, they'll be able to look both to the west and the valley, and to the east and the mountains. We rolled out our new logo recently, so we will take full advantage of bringing those branding opportunities to light. The renderings are up against the wall. Our design team has done an excellent job of giving us a close-up look of the design features of the building. We could not be happier with it.
"At this point, I'd like to let you hear from one of the student-athletes who will be using this facility. We talk about impact, on conference alignment, trajectory and moving forward. I'd like to introduce our men's basketball player, Preston Medlin. He happens to be one of just two first-team all-league players in our program as just a sophomore. Last year, he averaged 17 points, was 16th in the nation in three-point shooting percentage, and we get him for two more years."
UTAH STATE MEN'S BASKETBALL SOPHOMORE GUARD Preston Medlin
"Last season Coach Morrill said, `If there was an all-WAC skinny team, we would have five first teamers.' When I arrived at Utah State, I weighed in at 165 pounds. Today, after almost three years of college level weight lifting, I weigh in at a bulked-up 185 pounds. When most players come out of high school the biggest difference they notice is how much bigger and stronger everyone else is. The weight room is where guys like me catch up. So for all the skinny guys, today is a great day. This facility helps all Aggie athletes in many ways, it helps my coaches recruit my future teammates, it helps us as we move to a bigger conference and it helps us to have the latest and the most advanced training equipment available. On behalf of my fellow student-athletes, I would like to say thank you to all of the donors and everyone who made today possible. Thank you."
ATHLETICS DIRECTOR Scott Barnes
"Thank you Preston and however bulky you get, do not lose that jump shot. Let me take this opportunity to say a couple more things about the building. One is the construction schedule, construction will begin mid-June and we will have the keys to the car as they say in April of next year. We are looking forward to the ribbon-cutting that is not so far off in the future. With that, let me introduce to you our head football coach, it had been 32 years since we had seven win in the regular season, 14 years since we had been to a bowl game, he has done it and is part of the turn around from the inside out, starting in the classroom and the culture. Let's give a warm welcome to Gary Andersen."
UTAH STATE FOOTBALL HEAD COACH Gary Andersen
"First of all, thank you everyone for being here and there are a lot of names that I don't really know of that have been a part of this, so President Albrecht, Mr. Barnes and everyone that is involved in this project, it is a tremendous day. It is a tremendous opportunity for the men and the women in our programs and all athletes involved with Utah State; it is a big, big day and if they don't understand it completely, they will very soon. Basically what I would like to talk to you about is how this affects every student-athlete at Utah State in a very positive way.
"We sit back all of the time in football as coaches and I believe that it is our job to affect these kids in three areas and touch them in those three quality areas every single day and that is socially, academically and athletically. This facility will change their lives in a very positive way in all three of those areas and I am just going to talk about those really quick.
"From a social standpoint, there is a lot that goes into the old weight room as far as scheduling for student-athletes, study hall and just being a normal student. It will give them a lot more freedom, it will give an opportunity for kids to be in an environment to have a little bit more of a college life, which is important when you are a student-athlete because no matter what sport it is you are cramped and it makes it very difficult at times to be a normal student. Academically it is real simple, it gives our kids the opportunity to work out as a full team and if you are a big team you haven't had the opportunity to get in there; track is very difficult and it is going to give track and field as well as football the opportunity to get in there and have space. It will also give us the opportunity to have a couple teams in there at the same time. From an academic standpoint, we can move through our days much cleaner, it will be much easier for a young man or woman to take a class whenever it may be and still be able to lift and train with there team and that has been a little bit compromised for many of the athletic teams at Utah State over the last several years that I have been here, so that is a great thing for the young men and young women in our program.
"Obviously from a standpoint of athletically, it is a huge advantage. It will be the best of the best. We have got the Laub Complex, a young man or young woman gets hurt and has to go through rehab, preparation for practice, whatever they have it is right there available for them. They walk up about 30 stairs and they are at their study hall where they need to be. Anything that they need from an academic stand point is there for them. Now they walk across the road and away they go, they walk into the strength facility. It is unusual, it is cutting edge and it is the best of the best in my opinion and that is what we are going to have in this facility. I know how it is going to be built as far as what Gary (Stevens) did on the Laub Complex, the way that it has been designed.
"The expectation level of everyone when that facility is built here is to be the best of the best and I am sure that is what it is going to be. It is going to affect the student-athletes in the three areas that I think are the three most important areas in what being a college athlete is all about in a very positive way. For coaches, again it gives us the opportunity to affect every young man and young woman in a very positive way that we talked about, socially, academically and athletically.
"We are moving into a new conference, is this new facility important? Yes. Kids love facilities and kids love gear. That is the bottom line when you start talking about recruiting and putting yourself in a position to take the next step and it is a big step walking into the Mountain West. It is a tremendous opportunity to get a new facility and it allows us as coach to be on the cutting edge.
"There are a lot of things that we may not have been able to do regardless of the time of the year, whether you are an outside team in January it gets a little big tough in Logan at those times and there are a lot of things that we can get done in the weight room now that we couldn't get done. Possibly moving through the indoor facility, the rehab facility that we are going to have running on the ramp or indoor track or whatever you want to call it in the weight room. It opens up a lot of windows in the training area for the kids and again put us on the cutting edge. It is a tremendous day for us, it is a tremendous day for every student-athlete and every coach and really every Aggie. I think that we are going to reap the benefits of this for many years.
"Again, I just say thank you for every coach, every student-athlete that is here now and every student-athlete that has been in the past. The last thing that I am going to say is, I talked to Bobby Wagner and Robert Turbin and they said, `Coach, don't think that I am not coming back and training in that weight room next summer.' They are fired up about it and they feel like they have a little part of them in there, which they all do. All-student athletes who have been here and have represented us well on and off the field have all been a big part of this. Thank you to everyone who has been involved."
ATHLETICS DIRECTOR Scott Barnes:
"At this time I would like to introduce the man in charge, one that has led this university in a tremendous direction since he took over in 2005. President Albrecht, among many accomplishments, has a tremendous conviction for what a vibrant athletic program can do to advance the mission of a university. He is right in the middle of it. He serves on the NCAA Board of Directors, one of 18 presidents in the country. He was instrumental in our move to the Mountain West."
UTAH STATE UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT STAN ALBRECHT:
"As you can see from what's going on out here, we're anxious to get started. Typically when we do a ground-breaking, we do real ground-breaking. You go in thinking you're going to build a building there eventually. We're ready to go. We're going to have this thing open and running next April and we're excited about that. We look forward to that day very much.
"I hope that you'll take a little bit of time to reflect on some of the things Scott said. If you look at where we were and where we are in just a short amount of time, it wasn't very long ago that we had coaches who weren't sure they wanted to bring athletes they were recruiting to campus. They wanted to go to their place, rather than ours. If you brought them here, you took them to the library or somewhere else, rather than the athletics facilities. With this building to our east, the one that will be to our west, and what's going to happen up near the Spectrum, we're now in a position where we're not only competitive against the schools we're fighting against on the field, but we're more than competitive in terms of facilities. That makes a huge difference in terms of our ability to do what we need to do and be the noise we need to be. I can't tell you how excited I am.
"I would just remind you that the bottom line is we're doing this for our student-athletes. We can talk about our coaches, we can talk about fans who will come out and enjoy the product, but at the end of the day what we're doing is for students, and in this case, specifically student-athletes.
"In order to get to where we are today, we have had to take some very significant steps. As we have been involved in this journey of finding ourselves where we need to be in the Mountain West Conference, our ability to get there has been absolutely dependent on our ability to upgrade our facilities so that we can be competitive in the ways we need to be. Let me again thank those of you who are in the audience today who have put your money on the table, who have been willing to cling yourselves in ways that extend way beyond.
"It may sound like this is kind of an undercover job by not announcing names, but we will have occasions where we will do some more of that as we go on. There are representatives of some of the families who have been involved in this here today, so thank you.
"Yesterday, a big box came in the mail to my office. My staff opened it up and it was another carry-on suitcase, which I don't really need. But as we looked at that, it had the Mountain West initials on it. Inside were golf shirts and other things with the Mountain West insignia. I was able to do exactly the same thing I did when we announced the move. Got a big smile on my face and just said, `This feels really good.'
"Thank you to all of you who have helped us along the way. This is absolutely an essential step in the progress Utah State is making academically and athletically. We love to bring people to campus now because we show them great new buildings. We love to bring people down here now so we can show them these state-of-the-art facilities. Thanks again to those who have made it possible. Thanks to our student-athletes, you're the reason we do this."
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