Senior football players Tommy Becker, Brady Ervin and Josh Ostrue have been getting together with their teammates for voluntary workouts since early June. All summer long, they've been watching from afar the progress on the new Anderson Athletic and Recreation Complex.
"There's a lot to be excited about," Becker said. "We'll be the first team in the new locker room. We have 20 of 22 starters coming back." The players also look forward to bettering last year's 11-2 finish and No. 5 national ranking. Already three Tommies have been named first-team preseason All Americans.
Training camp starts Aug. 15. That's about the time the players will get an "up close and personal" look at the new facility, which includes a new football locker room that's between twice and three times as large as the old one. Locker rooms for visiting teams and for men's and women's basketball and volleyball teams are also being readied in the new center, where workers are busy on all the finishing touches and on schedule for a mid-August opening.
The new locker room "sets the standard for Division III locker rooms," says third-year head coach Glenn Caruso, who's looking forward to the 2010 season with more than the usual enthusiasm. "It's actually an educational space where we can teach and learn and grow."
About 99 feet long and 45 feet wide, the locker room has 130 cherry wood open lockers from Owatonna-based Wenger Corp. Each player's locker has a Plexiglas nameplate, a vented underseat space – emblazoned with the "ST" athletic shield – for clothing storage, and a combination-locked cubby for safe keeping of personal items. Each also carries a top-shelf, skeleton-style frame for airing pads and helmets.
As former players will attest, the old locker room was a hot, smelly harbor for bacteria and mold. The skeleton frames, air conditioning and antibacterial, antimicrobial surface protectants in the new facility will keep the germs at bay and keep the hazards of play confined to the football field. "The health and safety of our student athletes is a priority here," Caruso adds. "It's just a tremendous space."