In December, Taylor President Michael Lindsay announced plans to upgrade the athletics weight room in Odle Arena, and the Odle entryway lobby. The project is expected to be completed this summer with a target opening date of Aug. 1.
Pending final pricing, the $1.1 million investment in Taylor Athletics from alumni will completely revamp the existing room into a multi-sport facility that will house weight training for all of Taylor’s athletic programs.
The process for this project has been in the works for a while, and was initially a part of a $14 million plan revealed in Fall of 2019 to renovate both the weight room and the football fieldhouse to the north of Winterholter Field and Turner Stadium.
The plan was split into two separate projects earlier this academic year after it was approved by Lindsay.
“Certainly when he heard about it, and saw the condition of the space in which the weight room was in, (Lindsay) was in favor of it,” said Special Assistant to the President, Ron Sutherland. “When he got here and saw the need, he was supportive. And then advancement found a couple of donors who were willing to assist with it.”
Splitting the project allowed for a quicker timeline for the weight room particularly.
“Combining the two projects wasn’t a good idea,” Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Kyle Gould said. “So we looked at the two things and said, ‘Which needs to be done first?’”
Gould said that the athletic programs were behind splitting the projects, and that there was agreement on the weight room being done first.
New equipment will be brought in, as well as redone walls, carpeting and redone bathrooms. Windows will be added, allowing more natural lighting and the Odle lobby will see changes, including an added staircase to access the weight room.
Renderings will likely be available in the coming weeks as pricing and contracts are finalized.
“When you have a state of the art facility, your quality of work goes up,” Taylor football Coach Al Golden said. “There’s things we can do now that were very difficult prior.”
Golden works closely with the team’s strength and conditioning as well as coaching receivers. He said that the space in the weight room is ideal for a strength training facility, and that he’s noticed a gratefulness from both his team and other athletes and coaches with the news of the project.
Demolition of the old space began in early January, as coaches and members from various athletic programs helped tear out carpet and clean up the space. The equipment was moved to the football fieldhouse, where it is being used temporarily.
The project has involved significant collaboration between coaches, athletic trainers and Optimum Performance Sports in Fort Wayne, which partners with Taylor’s athletic training, to provide resources for each kind of athlete using the space.
Gould mentioned that a goal of the department in the next few years is to hire a strength and conditioning coach to pair with this space and increase the ability for athletic programs and athletes to receive specialized and individualized training.
“Having that one spot for all of our athletes, from recruiting to the development of our athletes is something that was needed,” Gould said.
Gould and Golden specified the benefit this facility will provide in the avenue of recruiting. Facilities are a key aspect of a coach’s pitch to prospective student-athletes and being able to highlight these upgrades should aid coaches.
“When it comes to recruiting, facilities matter,” Golden said.
The anticipation is that when the space opens up in the summer, it will decrease the stress facing the other weight room on campus, The Well in the Kesler Student Activities Center.
Athletes currently do some of their weight training in The Well, and it is anticipated that the multifunctional use of the new facility will free up The Well for students and faculty. This was a priority of the project when it was initially announced a few years ago and remains a key aspect of it.
“It should take stress off The Well, because they’ve been going there as opposed to having this space,” Sutherland said.
The permanent equipment won’t arrive at the opening date of the weight room, due to delivery times and the possibility of an athletics rebrand, but temporary equipment will fill the space at opening.