For years, UW-Madison has been home to one of the most successful intercollegiate athletic programs in the country. With NCAA championships in men’s cross country, ice hockey, soccer, indoor track and field, and women’s ice hockey all within the past 20 years, it is clear that athletic achievement is part of the culture at UW-Madison. In a similar fashion to other events on campus, athletic competitions bring together alumni and students alike. No matter the sport, a sea of red is always in attendance ready to celebrate another victory and support UW-Madison’s student-athletes.
Although there is a tradition of success at UW-Madison, few witness the hard work and dedication that each student-athlete must put forth in order to outperform the competition during games. Balancing the demands of the classroom with rigorous training nearly the entire year is no easy task. Aside from juggling their intense workload in the classroom, student athletes also have to train and study in outdated and inadequate athletic facilities. All too often, student-athletes face competition fortunate enough to practice in modern facilities suited to their specific needs. Justin Doherty, the Associate UW-Madison Athletic Director, described the disparity that student-athletes at UW-Madison face saying, “The McClain Center, in terms of athletic facilities, is very old. It has remained functional, but it is not competitive with our peers.” He goes on to say that, “ESPN recently ranked the football-related support facilities for all the Big Ten schools and we were 11th out of 12 schools.”
As a result, UW-Madison Athletics has decided to begin construction on a building addition known as the Student-Athletic and Performance Center, which is intended to improve the current support services offered to student-athletes. The project will consist of three phases; the first will create tunnel access from the McClain Center to the playing field and include new field turf in Camp Randall Stadium. The second phase will focus on renovation of the McClain Center as well as spaces within Camp Randall. The third phase will include the construction of a Fetzer Academic Center along with a new video board and sound system in Camp Randall Stadium. The entire project will be completed in the fall of 2013 before the Badgers football team takes the field for the first time.
Each aspect of the project will be aimed at ensuring that UW-Madison student-athletes are given the best opportunities to succeed in both the classroom and on the field. Gary Brown, Director of Campus Planning and Landscape Architecture, stressed the importance of pursuing the construction of a new Student Athletic Performance Center by saying, “Athletics needed to upgrade their existing student-athlete support facilities bringing them up out of the basement of the McClain Center.” He goes on to talk about the project saying “that includes conditioning spaces, tutorial spaces and study rooms for all the athletes on campus in one location.”
Aside from benefitting student-athletes, the improvements to Camp Randall and Badger Way will beautify the surrounding area. “It will serve as an upgrade to the existing pedestrian/bike path by adding more landscaping, increased lighting and it will improve the overall look of the space for users on game days” says Brown. In addition, the project will add a long needed public space in which to hold group gatherings and major events. The entire game day atmosphere for both players and fans will be enhanced by the completion of the Student Athletic Performance Center. A great deal of emphasis was also placed on making sure that the design of the building and its subprojects did not interfere with the current infrastructure already in place. In addition, it was crucial that the design of the building fit in visually and aesthetically with the existing Camp Randall facility while portraying the image of a major collegiate sports facility.
As each phase of the project reaches its completion, success on the playing field will not remain far behind. The new Student Athletic Performance Center will guarantee every student-athlete the chance to perform to the best of his or her abilities and compete at the highest level in both academics and athletics. Its lasting impact will be felt for years to come. UW-Madison’s bond with its athletic programs is largely unrivaled by other schools. Often referred to as “the best college sports town,” Madison is deeply invested in the success of UW-Madison’s athletic programs. With the Badger game traditions, it is clear that athletic events are a unifying point for a majority of students and alumni. Whether it is a freshman still finding his or her way around campus or a graduate of the class of 1970, athletic competition brings together the UW-Madison campus. The Student Athletic Performance Center will offer student-athletes modern on-campus athletic facilities that will raise the levels of their personal achievement in competition while also sustaining the tradition of success that is cherished by Badgers. New memories will be born with victories and the bond between the university and its athletic programs will continue to reach new heights.