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New building up and running

For months the USF athletic department has been saying how great the new athletic facility was going to be. Now that USF athletics has had a sometime to settle in, the question is: Is it all that it was cracked up to be?

“It’s already proven to be a real plus,” said Athletic Director, Doug Woolard, of the $15 million facility, which opened its doors in May. “Our coaches have told me it has helped from a recruiting standpoint.”

Once USF reels in the big recruits, it hopes to keep them happy. A large portion of the facility is dedicated to student athletes. Covering one-fourth of the upper floor is the Academic Enrichment Center, which includes a study lounge, a computer study area and a library.

“I think it makes you feel a little better when there’s a nice place to be when you train and shower and go to study hall and all those things,” coach Jim Leavitt said. “It just helps because of time management.”

Woolard said the AEC is just one of three ways the center appeals to student athlete welfare. The sports medicine area and the strength and conditioning area are two other things that make the facility top notch, he said.

“I think they’re as good as any place in the country.”

Athletes who were here before the facility was built have noticed a difference.

Tara Escribano, a senior and leader on the women’s soccer team, loves the new strength and conditioning area.

“The old weight room was crowded and the equipment was kind of old. (This one) is a hundred times better. This facility is awesome.”

As far as the football program is concerned, Leavitt’s operations are not quite fully up and running yet.

“It’s work in progress,” he said. “We are probably eighty percent done and we’ll probably be working as a football team at about eighty-percent of the facility (this season). Through the fall we’ll be doing different things to kind of add to complete it all. When do I think it will all get completed? Not for another year, I’d imagine. To get everything in place exactly like we wanted.”

Woolard mentioned mirrors that still needed to be put up in the weight room as well as other things that needed to be completed.

“There’s still a transition here,” he said. “We’ve still got a list of things that we need to get complete on the building.”

As good as the building has been and will be for USF, Leavitt warned, “People make a program. It’s not the building. They can’t lose sight of that.”