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Student athletes believe last phase of Eck Stadium improvements will help players excel

Sam Twews and Connor Lungwitz
Shocker pitchers Connor Lungwitz, right, and Sam Tewes sit in a dugout that will be enlarged and offer direct access to the locker room as part of the Eck Stadium improvement project.

You don’t have to look very far to find enthusiastic supporters of the fifth and final phase of improvements for the Eck Stadium Sports Facility at Wichita State University. The players themselves, already proud to play in one of the most impressive venues in college baseball, believe the next round of development will impact their performances directly.

The WSU Foundation and WSU Athletics are seeking to raise $2 million in private money to pay for the $3 million project, one of the priorities identified in the Foundation’s comprehensive campaign for Wichita State. There is $1 million remaining from the last fundraising effort to be applied to this priority.

The final phase of Eck Stadium improvements will feature a clubhouse area, remodeled players’ locker room and lounge, enlarged dugout, training rooms with hot and cold whirlpools and a state-of-the-art strength and cardio center. All areas within the facility provide donors with naming opportunities.

Two Shocker pitchers, junior Sam Tewes and freshman Connor Lungwitz, shared their thoughts.

How will the Eck project change the way players practice, work out or play?

Sam Tewes: This whole renovation helps the players in a way that may not be recognizable to others. Having everything together — the weight room, locker room, dugout and stadium — gives players a sense that they have a definite opportunity to get better than anyone else in the country with the resources available to them. It also gives them something to be proud of — knowing they play at a university that supports them and will do what it takes to help them succeed.

Connor Lungwitz: The new weight room will provide us with an opportunity to get bigger, faster and stronger every single day. Having the weight room so close to the field will let us get a lot more done in a more efficient way. The improvements could truly elevate our level of play as a team. [Currently, players use a strength and conditioning facility at Koch Arena.]

What part of the project excites you the most?

Connor Lungwitz: The new locker room. Our locker room can get crowded and is a bit older. Updating our locker room and lounge could also be a very beneficial recruiting tool.

What is your favorite thing about Eck Stadium?

Sam Tewes: Looking into the monstrous grandstand from the field, especially when we have a lot of fans, is priceless. It gives the athletes something to play for that is bigger than themselves when they see all those faces. As a game venue, it is fantastic. Many of our competitors say we have one of the best stadiums in the country, and with the new renovations it would truly become elite.

In what ways do you think people attending games will be affected by the project?

Sam Tewes: I think the benefit is mutual for players and fans alike. The atmosphere created by our stadium is unmatched by almost any other in Division I college baseball. People come to games to support a winning team and to experience the energy and atmosphere. Fans and ticketholders alike can come to games knowing that they are watching a game in one of the premier venues in the country.

WSU Baseball begins Friday, Feb. 19, at home.