New fieldhouse, maximum funding set high expectations for upcoming year

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New fieldhouse, maximum funding set high expectations for upcoming year

Olivia Barfield

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If the new, privately-funded football end zone facility (fieldhouse) is any indication of how the 2016 season will go, we are in for something “phenomenal,” as running back Tyler Cain put it.

Running back Tyler Cain cuts the ribbon at the new football end zone facility (field house) opening Tuesday.

Running back Tyler Cain cuts the ribbon at the new football end zone facility (field house) opening Tuesday.

Cain, a business administration graduate who was chosen to cut the ribbon Tuesday, said “it’s a long time coming. We’ve been talking about this since I’ve been a freshman and I’m just excited to finally be in it.”

Cain, who has one year left on the football team, added that the building has boosted the morale of the entire program.

To add to the excitement of the new facility, Athletics Director Dr. Brian Wickstrom announced at the ribbon cutting that President Bruno has committed to investing as much money into the athletics program as state law will allow.

“If investment would have been at that level back in 1993, I think that our program would be further ahead than we are now, but right now we’re in the challenge of closing that gap,” Wickstrom said.

Wickstrom added that such a heavy investment will help athletes see success like that of ULM’s academics.

“The rest of the bayou looks unbelievable, looks beautiful and we need athletics to carry our part,” said Wickstrom, speaking of ULM as “the bayou.”

President Bruno spoke to say that ULM has a great name that can get better with the help of student athletes, which is why the university offers athletics such heavy support.

“It’s time for us to now go ahead and provide the very best program in our athletic area that we possibly can,” Bruno said.

After several short addresses to the crowd, the ribbon was cut and attendees were free to explore.

The facility, built at the end zone of Malone Stadium’s field, provides the football team with an updated headquarters and locker room. It also features new exhibits such as mannequins displaying different versions of Warhawk jerseys and a history wall.

The Warhawks are looking to the field house as a new beginning as they work for a successful year. According to Head Football Coach Matt Viator, the facility not only presents a better quality of life for current players, but also helps with the recruiting process.

“Being able to walk recruits in this front door, take pictures with the mannequins, do all those great things that you guys see on social media, it’s going to be a tremendous help as far as what we’re doing and moving forward with this football program,” Viator said.

As it is entirely donation funded, the field house is bringing not only the team together, but the community, says Kevin VanDerzee, Athletic Director of Business Operations.

“The attention that we’re getting right now for our student athletes, I mean, at the end of the day it’s all driven on that,” said VanDerzee, adding that as the football team moves forward, other teams will as well.

“This is a great place to start and show the community how invested we are.”

The Warhawks will play their first game on Sept. 3 again Southern.