June 24, 2013
LOGAN, Utah - Utah State Vice President and Director of Athletics Scott Barnes, President Stan Albrecht, Jim Laub - President and Chief Executive Officer of Cache Valley Electric, Blake Kirby - Chairman of the Board of Inovar, Inc., sophomore volleyball player Elle Brainard and head women's basketball coach Jerry Finkbeiner all spoke at Monday's groundbreaking ceremony for the new Wayne Estes Center. A complete transcript of Andersen's remarks can be found below.
Vice President and Director of Athletics Scott Barnes
"What a great day it is indeed. On behalf of almost 400 excellent student-athletes, and a great coaching staff and administrative staff we welcome you here today for this special occasion. We do have some special guests with us too. President Stan Albrecht and Joyce Albrecht, thanks for being here.
"Let's talk a little about our team. No stranger to intercollegiate athletics, VCBO Architects are the design consultants for this project and they were also involved in the Laub Complex here a few years ago. The one thing I have learned in my short time in working with Okland Construction is there is an absolute sense of urgency. We appreciate that very much because this building behind me has to be enclosed by the first snowfall this fall, so they've got a sense of urgency for sure.
"So, you'll be hearing from some of our coaches and some of our student-athletes. One coach who isn't here is Stew Morrill. Right now Stew is in Plentywood, Mont., for family commitments, but he did reach out to both of our donors today and also sent this statement along if you would allow me to read this statement from Stew Morrill.
Statement from Utah State men's head basketball coach Stew Morrill:
"Family commitments keep me away from today's groundbreaking of the Wayne Estes Center. However, even though I'm not there, I have a huge smile on my face because today we take a huge step forward for multiple programs at Utah State. I want to thank Jim and Carol Laub, as well as Blake Kirby for their major donations that made this dream a reality. Practice gyms are a must in today's Division I basketball, especially at the Mountain West level. From the recruiting of players and development of players, you're losing ground if you don't meet this need. Plus, basketball is getting new offices in the Wayne Estes Center and after 15 years at Utah State, Stew Morrill gets a window. Happy Days!"
Vice President and Director of Athletics Scott Barnes
"Let me talk to you about three things: The need, what's in the building and the name.
"The need is obvious. Three or four years ago, I was looking out my window here in the corner of the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum and saw several student-athletes piling into vans. It seemed odd to me at the time because they weren't traveling to any competitions at that point. I went down and asked them where they were headed. They were going over to Logan High to practice because there wasn't any court space available. The need is evident. In fact, when you think about the scheduling challenges with the court space we have, it also interrupts class schedules for our student-athletes. The opportunity to add this building brings with it an opportunity to better deliver our promise to our student-athletes.
"Recruit-ability. This is going to be an outstanding opportunity to recruit student-athletes because of the services it provides and the wow factor it will have. It will be a competitive venue for volleyball. With 1,400 seats it will absolutely be a home court advantage for our championship volleyball team.
"The building is about 32,000 square feet over two levels. The actual entrance will be right here (facing the Spectrum) and if you haven't seen the renderings, they're there in the back. I mentioned the 1,400 seats, including chairback seats and end-court seating. There will be one full volleyball court for competition and two full basketball courts for practice. There are locker rooms for volleyball, film rooms and offices for all sports, a training room, an in-season strength and conditioning center and as this is a competitive facility, ticketing, concessions, restrooms and a lobby area. In the lobby and throughout the building, we'll be celebrating not only the history of Wayne Estes, but the heritage of our great basketball and volleyball tradition here at Utah State.
"The name - The Wayne Estes Center. Shortly after Jim and Carol made a commitment, Jim was pondering the name of the building. He asked me how I'd feel about naming the building the Wayne Estes Center and I told him I felt like crying. When you think about the largest gift that's ever been provided here at Utah State and celebrating one of the greatest Aggies that's ever lived, whose career was cut short on that tragic night of Feb. 8, 1965, what an unbelievable gesture. I know all of you are so excited and proud of the name of this facility.
"Let me take the opportunity now to introduce to you this university's leader who does an outstanding job for all of us. He also serves as one of just 18 on the NCAA Board of Directors. He's been a wonderful leader and partner, let's welcome President Stan Albrecht."
President Stan Albrecht
"I was just looking through the trees to see if I could see the Merlin Olsen statue. You can't quite see it from here, but you know it's there. To have our football facility now with Merlin Olsen's name on it and a basketball facility with Wayne Estes' name on it, the two most illustrious names in the history of athletics at Utah State, what a great honor. Jim, thanks for your willingness to put Wayne's name on the building.
"Two weeks ago, I was sitting in Mountain West President's Council meetings in Colorado Springs. Sitting around that table gave me the opportunity to reflect again on just how far we've come in a relatively short time. To come from a point where we were in a conference that was struggling and probably didn't have survivability, at least in terms of the football operation, not knowing where we were going or what we were doing, to now sitting here today with this incredible groundbreaking, this incredible event where we take another significant step forward in the history of Utah State University Athletics. As I sat around that table with fellow presidents and reflected on the progress that has been made over what really is a short period of time, both in terms of facilities, in terms of entering a new conference, in terms of success of our athletic programs, from one end to the other. I just want make a special shoutout and thank each of you for the important roles you have played in making this happen.
"A special thanks to athletics director Scott Barnes. As I sit in NCAA meetings and deal with some of the issues and challenges facing intercollegiate athletics, I'm reminded that we have the best athletic director in the country. The progress we've made would not have occurred without the visionary leadership that Scott has provided. Scott, a special thanks from all of us to you for that.
"I'm going to embarrass Jim for just a minute as I introduce him. He talks about having two heroes as he was growing up, Mickey Mantle and Wayne Estes. Jim, I'll forgive you for the first, but say amen to the second. What an amazing gesture. Wayne Estes was a hero to Jim, but also to many others. We all know we would not be standing here today without the amazing commitment and loyalty, the role Jim and Carol have played in moving us forward. They never ask anything in return. I just finished reading a book entitled Give and Take that studied givers and takers in this life. As I read that book, there were several points in time as I read about the givers that I thought Jim Laub's photo should be at the top of the page. The loyalty and commitment Jim has to this institution is pretty amazing. At one point as we were dealing with some challenges, I asked Jim if through all of the good and bad times if there had ever been a moment when he was ready to give up and walk away from us. In his quiet kind of way he said "Nah, I'd never do that." We all know he'd never do that. Jim, I hope as we celebrate this groundbreaking and start this incredible new facility, that at least in a small part it's a bit of payback time."
Jim Laub, President and Chief Executive Officer of Cache Valley Electric
"It's an exciting day. President Albrecht and Scott Barnes are both tough acts to follow because they're both so eloquent, excellent speakers. As I'm sitting here, I'm reminded of about six or seven years ago when we had the dedication of the end zone facility. I jokingly made the comment that Angie's Restaurant had become the most expensive restaurant I'd ever eaten at. Anytime I got the call to meet the president or athletic director at Angie's, it became expensive. I want to officially say that Herm's Inn has become the most expensive. Thank you to Scott and President Albrecht. It is Carol's and my honor to be a part of this project. I've had in the back of my mind for quite some time now how to bring back Wayne Estes' memory. This seemed like the fitting time to do it. I also want to thank Blake Kirby and his family for stepping up and joining in the project. I look forward to working with you.
"Scott mentioned VCBO and what a great teammate they are as far as architects. I'm proud to have them be a part of this. When I was notified that Okland Construction was going to be working on the project, that really got me excited. Okland Construction, like Cache Valley Electric is close to 100 years old. Both have got the original family name and four generations. My grandfather was first associated with Okland with Brett (Okland's) great grandfather. My father and Brett's grandfather were very close, and the tradition continues as I have a close relationship with this team. Okland is a great company. They are one of the premiere companies throughout the country. We've done hundreds of projects with Okland, so I know the kind of quality project we're going to get on this building right here.
"Wayne Estes. We touched a little on that and how his name became attached to this project. I made that suggestion and Scott was excited to do it. He was my idol. I was 15 years old when he died and my room was covered in pictures of him. Fifty years later I still get emotional when I think about it. To a young kid, Estes epitomized everything a role model should be. There may have been times during his basketball career that he wasn't the best athlete out on the floor, but there was never a time when he wasn't the best basketball player on the floor. He worked hard, was a great teammate and was a great role model for kids of my generation. It's just fitting to put his name with this project.
"Thank you very much. It's a great afternoon and I appreciate everyone coming."
Vice President and Director of Athletics Scott Barnes Introducing Blake Kirby
"I want to take this opportunity to introduce Blake. With all sincerity, I say that this project does not move forward without you and the timing of your gift and how important it is to have someone like you come along. Blake is a 1991 graduate of Utah State University. He has served in many capacities, really entrenched in Aggie athletics for most of his life. His parents raised him right. He's done some work on the Big Blue Board, most recently on the University Foundations Board as well as the National Aggie Athletic Advisory Board. He is as passionate an Aggie as you'll ever find. A great fan of athletics here, he stepped up and rolled his sleeves up throughout his career, most recently with this gift. As we think about moving this project forward, and there is work to do, we could not have started it without this gift."
Blake Kirby, Chairman of the Board of Inovar, Inc.
"This is kind of fun! I decided everything I prepared is out the window. There's a bit of irony here for me because Scott and Kent Stanley (USU Sr. Associate Athletics Director for Development) have been talking to me about being involved in a project here for quite some time. I said when something came along that fit my family, we'd take a look at it. My father Lynn Kirby had a 27-year career at Utah State. Whenever I could talk him into it, he would drag me to work. I had a little autograph book. I remember getting signatures and gravitating to basketball. My father attended the games when Wayne played, including his last one. I still remember that story and it always makes an impression on me. To say that Utah State and Utah State Athletics made a huge difference in my life is a huge understatement. Scott and Kent flew to San Diego to get my daughter Bailey's sign-off as well as my fiancee.
"What an amazing institution Utah State is. My final thought is that I'm fortunate through our business. We deal with the College of Engineering extensively, the College of Business and the College of Education. There are needs everywhere. Then I joined Scott's board. The emphasis that he and his leadership board place on academics for our athletes was shocking to me and really inspiring. When Utah State talks about student-athletes, there's a reason student comes first. Whether you know this or not, our athletes are among some of the leaders in the country with respect to academic performance. I'm grateful to participate and provide a resource for those student-athletes and our great coaches. Recruiting in the Mountain West I know is going to be tough. The bar is getting raised and we all recognize that. Thank you President, thank you Scott, thanks Jim and thanks to all of you."
Sophomore Volleyball Player Elle Brainard
"It is an honor to represent the 400-plus student-athletes here at Utah State University, specifically the men's and women's basketball teams as well as my teammates on the volleyball team.
"My very first unofficial visit was here to Utah State. I had no idea what I was doing and probably said a total of 10 words to Grayson (DuBose) the entire time. Little did I know that this first visit would have such an impact on me. Following my visit here, I went on visits to lots of other schools, but my mind kept wandering back to Utah State. I was comparing facilities, coaching staffs, future teammates and campuses. I had the Aggies on my mind and from that day forward, they never left.
"Somewhere along the line I made the decision I wanted to play for Utah State. However, I couldn't just call Grayson because that would be way too boring. I left school early and packed my parents and siblings in the minivan to make the two-hour drive to Logan. We stopped and got everyone some sort of Aggie apparel and made our way to the coaches' offices where Grayson was nowhere to be found. He was sick that day and had gone home early. USU assistant coach Taubi Neves called him and told him he needed to come back to the office. At this point I just felt kind of stupid, but I handed him a jar full of Dum-Dums as well as a paper that read 'There's no way I'm a dum-dum and would choose the wrong hue, 'cause I'm filled with Aggie spirit and bleed Aggie Blue.'
"Playing in the Spectrum for the first time was such an amazing experience and continues to be every time I set foot on the court. The arena combined with the atmosphere the fans create gives me an adrenaline rush like no other.
"The past few years, the basketball and volleyball teams have dominated the floor. Having this new building will help us keep this tradition alive. The Wayne Estes Center is going to be a huge benefit to the athletic department and our transition into the Mountain West Conference. The building will not only be used for current members of the basketball and volleyball teams, but for the future development and success of these three programs.
"In closing, I want to thank the donors that helped make this possible, as well as those who had the vision for this magnificent project. Thank you."
Utah State women's head basketball coach Jerry Finkbeiner:
"This is a great day to be an Aggie, isn't it? Especially if you're a volleyball or a basketball coach. A big part of my life is going to be back here for the next few years. I'm really looking forward to it from a recruiting standpoint, a competitive standpoint and just the continued growth of Utah State Athletics.
"I'm kind of the new kid on the block. I've just completed one year of tenure here and there are two things that really stand out to me about the Aggie spirit. I was asked the other night at the Aggie Caravan in Brigham City about what stood out most in our delivery with our recruits and what we try to impress upon. To me it's the Aggie spirit. One is the vision of our administration, not only for the academics and research on campus, but also the growth of athletics on campus. A close second, maybe even a tie with that is the giving spirit of Aggies. The giving spirit is very impressive from our alumni to the supporters. I don't know a whole lot of faces yet, I'm starting to get a feel for it, but I know the Laub family and how much they have given through the years is impressive. Sometimes it's hard for me to donate to the Boy Scouts or give a certain amount to my church. I'm amazed by people who have been blessed with gifts and who in turn give gifts away. It's quite a deal. I haven't met the Kirby family yet, but I'm appreciative and I'll be seeing the Kirby Court every day coming to work.
"This will be an impressive link in our story of Aggie basketball. I know coach Morrill is in Montana right now, but I just echo his words with how much this is going to mean to us with the times, our athletes and getting athletes to come to Utah State. This is a big deal for basketball coaches and future players at Utah State.
"I'll leave you with one very still, impressed memory of mine. When I was interviewing for the job last year, part of the interview was with the girls on the team. It was scheduled for half an hour, but lasted about an hour and a half. I asked them why they chose to come to Utah State. Every one of them said they loved the university. I've never been an employee or a coach at a school where 100 percent of the athletes loved the university. That's the Aggie spirit.
"I appreciate President Albrecht, your leadership and continued Aggie spirit that goes through the veins of this place. We're sure looking forward to the future."
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