New athletics center receives rave reviews
Published: Tuesday, September 4, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 4, 2012 07:09
When Andrew Rayner visited Tufts as a football recruit four years ago, he liked most of what he saw: a strong academic school located right outside Boston. But the athletic facilities – well, they didn’t exactly blow him away.
“I liked the facilities, but it was similar to high school,” said Rayner, a Needham, Mass. native who now is a senior offensive lineman for the Jumbos. “I visited other schools and they had nice weight rooms, big locker rooms.”
Ultimately, after weighing his options, Rayner chose to wear the brown and blue. If he were going through the process today, though, it would have been a no-brainer.
“I would’ve committed the second I saw the locker room if it was like that when I was coming,” he said.
Rayner is not the only one who’s giddy about the brand new Steve Tisch Sports and Fitness Center, which opened to athletes on Aug. 15 and opened to the general population on Sept. 1. The three-story, 42,000-square-foot project set between the Gantcher Center and Cousens Gymnasium has wowed players and coaches alike.
“I’ve been around some [Div. I] facilities, and I think this is comparable,” said second-year head football coach Jay Civetti, who has coached at Boston College and North Carolina State. “I don’t think there’s anybody in the league, or anybody in the general recruiting world that we go against, that has a facility quite like this.”
Across the athletics community, the new facilities have made one thing clear: Tufts has made athletics a priority.
“I think that the minute you walk through the door, the impression is that Tufts really cares about and respects our student athletes and how hard they work on and off the field,” volleyball coach Cora Thompson said. “I think that’s one of the most important things that we want to convey.”
The lower level of the building includes six new locker rooms – three men’s and three women’s – whose use will be divided among several teams. That marks a drastic change from last year, where varsity locker rooms were spread amongst facilities all over campus and did not have nearly the amenities of the new gym.
When asked to compare these locker rooms with the ones the team used last year, Civetti could only laugh.
“There is no way to compare the two,” he said.
In the past, Rayner explained, the football players had to take turns getting changed in front of their lockers due to lack of space. Now, there’s more than enough space – and some room for luxury, too.
“We have f---in’ TVs in the locker room now,” Rayner said. “It’s ridiculous.”
The lower level of the building also features a sports medicine facility with a taping area, a rehab area and a “hydro room,” which includes a 15-person cold pool and a six-person hot tub.
In other words, Div. III athletes will be receiving Div. I treatment.
“I think one of the nicest sports med places I’ve ever seen was when I was at NC State,” Civetti said. “I’ll be honest with you – this is comparable to some of the [Div. I] facilities I’ve seen.”
The new facility will also make it easier for teams to hold meetings and film sessions. Previously, sessions often took place in Halligan Hall, which housed the coaches’ offices as well as the Departments of Computer Science and Electrical and Computer Engineering. Rayner noted that the offensive linemen would sometimes have to cut their film sessions short when a class needed the space.
That will no longer be a problem, as the new athletics center features several team meeting rooms, as well as projectors in some of the locker rooms. In addition, the coaches’ offices are now located on the top floor of the new building, rather than in Halligan.
“[Before], we had primarily our athletic wing and engineering had primarily their engineering wing, but our offices were interspersed,” Thompson said. “It’s gonna be nice to finally have a home that is all ours.”
The coaches aren’t the only ones who now have a space all to themselves. On the ground floor of the building is a new fitness center, which will be utilized primarily by non-athletes. Meanwhile, athletes will continue to work out in the Lunder Fitness Center which was previously shared between teams and the rest of the student body.
Now, athletes will have a workout space to call their own – not to mention state-of-the-art locker rooms and meeting rooms – and a whole new reason to fall in love with the brown and blue.
“Tufts is a place people just want to come, regardless,” Civetti said. “Now, you have something like this – it’s a dangerous combination in the athletic recruiting world.”