New Digs At Dal Ward

When the Buffs host Florida State at Folsom Stadium on Sept. 15, they'll meet beforehand in a new locker room. Inside, get a look at the locker room, and read what players and CU officials think about the new digs, which were funded 100 percent by donations.

In season's past, Colorado players would trek downstairs into the auditorium in the basement of the Dal Ward Center when the head coach wanted to speak with the entire football team. When Dan Hawkins took over last season, he changed that practiced. A self-professed "locker room guy" Hawkins he preferred to talk to the team in the players' locker room. But during the 2006 season, when Hawkins would give his animated halftime speeches during games at Folsom Stadium, players could hear the passion in his voice, but not all of them could see it. There just wasn't enough room in the CU locker room for all 100 or so players to gather for a proper locker-room talk.

"You ended up having to peek around the corner or stand up on lockers to hear what he was saying," said senior cornerback Terrence Wheatley.

The cramped quarters affected communication.

"Everybody was kind of peeking over benches, so there was a little bit of a disconnect," added senior placekicker Kevin Eberhart.

When the Buffs play their first game at home this year on Sept. 15 vs. Florida State, however, locker room space won't be a problem. Thanks to an inflow of donations, the athletic department remodeled the locker room over the summer. In addition, the Varsity Room upstairs in the Dal Ward Center was redone. Included in the redo are a new paint job, new flat screen televisions and sandstone trim that matches the university-wide look.

The athletic department's equipment room in the basement was renovated, the football offices got a makeover and a new movable practice bubble is scheduled to be in place in October, too. (New men's and women's basketball offices should be installed at the Coors Events Center prior to hoops season, as well).

"It was something that we recognized needed to be done," senior associate athletic director Tom McGrath said. "Donors have stepped up and made some of those things happen. The student-athletes feel good about it. It shows that people are investing in the program. And it also shows that their investment needs to be there, too."

Hawkins agreed.

"I think it signifies growth, it signifies improvement and investment," he said. "It was a huge emotional and motivational thing even for the (players) that are here to see that somebody cares."

The locker room measures in at 4,445 square feet and is 58 percent bigger than the previous locker room. There's a player lounge on one side of the space, and several flat-screen televisions in the room. A large, wooden "CU" emblem hangs overhead.

"It's a whole lot better than what we used to have," Wheatley said. "It just looks more like a Big 12-type school locker room. Now we have a big open area where you can be in the same spot. We're not hustling to find anyone (for a halftime speech). It's so open, you can see everyone."

Of course, the upgraded amenities should help in another area crucial to the football program.

"I think anytime you can improve your facilities, it's great for recruiting," Eberhart said.

The new locker room is 58 percent bigger than the old version.
Buffalo Sports News

CU players are currently using the new digs in the Dal Ward basement.
Buffalo Sports News

Fans will be able to tour the new locker room prior to Saturday's scrimmage.
Buffalo Sports News

CU's new football lockers.
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