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Shock the World Campaign
In This Issue

       

Facilities project has special appeal to WSU track/field, cross country athletes


Cooper family
 Jared Belardo and Natalie Halfman are top athletes on the WSU track and field team. They love competing, but lament the poor facilities used by the track and cross country teams.

As a group, no one is more excited about the plan to renovate Charles Koch Arena and build a new student-athlete center than the 130 members of Wichita State’s track and field and cross country teams.

It’s not hard to see why. The locker room facilities currently available to them are inferior in quality. Once the new student-athlete center is built, the teams will be relocated there.

Liane and Y.S. Liu
Showers for both male and female student-athletes need updating.

“When I first visited as a recruit, I was shocked,” says Natalie Halfman, a middle-distance sprinter and exercise science major. “It was my last school visit and all of the other schools had facilities that were much, much nicer.”

Halfman chose to attend Wichita State because it was in the top ranks of track teams in the Missouri Valley Conference.

“I wanted to compete with a great team,” she says. “But now that we’re in the American, if a recruit comes and sees these facilities, they’re not going to want to be part of the team.”

Jared Belardo, 21, a jumper on the track team, laments the fact that he and his teammates miss out on bonding time and camaraderie in the team’s facility. “Mainly, we just all want to get out of there after practice,” he says. “It’s not a comfortable, inspiring place to be.”

That would change with a project currently in the fundraising phase. The WSU Foundation and WSU Athletics are conducting a $13 million campaign to raise private funds to renovate parts of Charles Koch Arena and build an academic/performance center for all WSU student-athletes. The new center, to be located just south of the arena, will house the track and field and cross country programs, the largest of WSU’s sports programs.

Liane and Y.S. Liu
An unsightly corner of the track facility, which is located underneath the west bleachers at Cessna Stadium.

“When we’re hosting recruits and their parents, to have that view overlooking the track (at Cessna Stadium) and up-to-date locker rooms will make a positive impact,” says Steve Rainbolt, WSU track and field coach.

Coaches’ offices for track and field and cross country, now located on the second level of Charles Koch Arena, will be moved to the new student center. “Having all of us together with convenient access for the students is something we’re all looking forward to,” Rainbolt says.

The project to renovate Charles Koch Arena and build a student-athlete center will benefit all student-athletes, not just track and field. For example, the Barry and Paula Downing Academic Learning Center inside the arena will be moved to a much larger, updated setting in the new facility. The Learning Center is open to all student-athletes.

A strength and conditioning center now located inside the arena also will be moved to the new center, open to all athletes. The new student center will be connected to the arena by the Equity Bank Walkway of Champions.

“All of these improvements are designed to raise the level of Shocker athletic facilities to the level of excellence of our sports programs,” says WSU Athletic Director Darron Boatright. “That will be a huge step forward in our recruiting efforts.”

Fundraising has been strong, with about 75 percent of the $13 million raised.

“We are so close to our goal and just need that final push to take us over the top,” says Elizabeth King, WSU Foundation president and CEO. “The sooner we complete fundraising, the sooner we can begin construction on this much-needed project.”

For more information

Consider making a gift, so student-athletes like Halfman and Belardo can benefit for years to come. Contact Alex Johnson, director of development for WSU Athletics, at 316-978-7493 or ajohnson@goshockers.com.

Marya McCrae