New Athletic Center unites athletics and academics for cutting-edge center
- New Liberty Athletic Center allows athletes a space to train, receive tutoring, attend to injuries and nap in down time.
- The Athletic Center brings space, natural light and some of the newest technology to the new athletic facility to care for students.
The Liberty University Athletics Department opened its new Athletics Center, a 60,000 square foot one-stop-shop for all things athletics related, Friday, Nov. 3.
The center is the third athletics-related opening on-campus this year, along with the indoor track facility, which includes a new natatorium and football practice facility.
Attached to the outdoor track and adjacent to Al Worthington Stadium, the new facility boasts state-of-the-art equipment like an Olympic-level weight room, a world-class sports medicine facility, a smoothie bar, study rooms and tutoring offices.
The grand opening attracted many notable Liberty and Lynchburg names such as President Jerry Falwell, Provost Ron Hawkins, Liberty Athletic Director Ian McCaw and Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance CEO and Chief Economic Development Officer Megan Lucas.
“The Liberty Athletics Center is going to be integral as we seek to fulfill our vision and realize our vision which is to train champions for Christ, provide a world-class student athlete experience and achieve victory with integrity,” McCaw said.
Hawkins said he was pleased with how the Athletic Center is valuing both academic and athletic interests.
“We love athletics here, but we also love academics,” Hawkins said. “What I really love about our athletic team is that they value the academic development of our athletes.”
Lucas compared the facility to a variety of other schools and praised Liberty for the way it cares for its athletes.
“I have been to the University of Alabama, I have been to the University of Tennessee, I have been to the University of Nebraska, and I promise you, nobody takes care of their athletes more holistically than Liberty University,” Lucas said.
The three-story building will also serve as the location for all athletic offices, moving the department from its tighter cubicle-riddled previous location of the Williams Stadium Tower.
Senior Associate Athletics Director Mickey Guridy said that the department will be able to work more efficiently in their new location.
“Everybody has their own office for the most part,” Guridy said. “There’s a couple of people who still share space, but as (McCaw) said, it’s a big morale boost for our program because we had people on top of themselves in cubicles, and, now, everybody has a space where they can have some privacy and be able to operate more effectively.”
Ty Thomassian, a professional advisor for NCAA student athletes said the old offices pale in comparison to his new accommodations.
“It just seemed outdated, especially for athletics,” Thomassian said regarding the old offices. “It was really cramped and kind of dull. Coming in here it’s bright, it’s inviting. It looks like a legitimate athletics building that Liberty should have.”
McCaw noted the abundance of technology in the center and said it would help athletes grow in all aspects.
“If you go in the weight room, the sports medicine facility, it’s really cutting-edge technology,” McCaw said. “For example, we have sleep pods for student athletes. If they have 20 minutes or so, they could take a nap. Studies show that sleep has a huge impact on performance. We have some incredible technology in terms of rehabilitating injuries. It’s been a really well thought out complex that is going to meet all the needs of our student athletes athletically, academically, spiritually and socially.”
A notable feature of the building is the architecture that allows natural light in many of the rooms and offices.
Andreas Pacheco, a senior associate at VMDO Architects who were commissioned to construct the building said incorporating light into the layout was a challenge as the building is situated on the side of what was once a hill.
“It was the biggest challenge and ended up being the biggest asset,” Pacheco said. “There was a hill here before, so when the idea came out that there could be a building here, we asked ‘How can you bring light when you’re buried in a hill?’”
The building also features a unique design compared to the rest of the campus, with a rounded front and live plants on the inside.
David Corry, the general counsel in the Office of Legal Affairs, said he appreciates how the building stands out.
“I think it was a really creative design,” Corry said. “We’ve got a lot of square buildings on our campus and the fact that this one is kind of rounded and long and backed up on a hill, it’s really architecturally cool.”
Falwell said he was very pleased with the way the building turned out.
“I’m just blown away,” Falwell said. “I didn’t imagine it would be anything near this fantastic.”
Falwell said the addition of the new facility bodes well for the future of the athletics program at Liberty.
“I think we’ll be able to attract student athletes that we’d never had the chance to attract before just because of this one facility,” Falwell said. “It’ll launch a lot of our programs to a whole different level.”