Waterwall Highlights Locker Room Improvements

Ohio State's renovations aren't limited to Ohio Stadium. The Woody Hayes Athletic Center is also undergoing a makeover. The locker room is being completely re-done and the indoor practice facility is receiving a new playing surface. The construction is expected to be wrapped up by July 25, not long before fall camp begins.

There's no debate about which aspect of Ohio State's locker room at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center will grab the most attention once construction is finished.

"There's going to be a waterwall," said Ohio State associate director of athletic facilities Don Patko. "This waterwall will separate the wet area from the locker room in general. The waterwall will have a function where you can light lights up to it and put red lights up on the waterwall and you'll see water coming down both sides of the waterwall. You'll be able to see it from the wet area and see it from the locker room."

In a vacuum, such aquatic amenities have no correlation to on-the-field success or even to the sport itself. But college football is changing, and the improvements at places like Alabama (which has a waterfall in its locker room) and Oregon (which has everything ever invented in its locker room) make such additions a necessity.

It's not something that those in charge of renovating Ohio State's facilities are particularly keen to discuss, but the fact remains that what happens in Eugene, Ore., has a trickle-down effect on the rest of the country. Consider it a much less dangerous and far more lavish arms race than the types that play out on the international stage.

"I don't like to make too many comments about Oregon. Oregon's what they are," Patko said. "We're going to put together a very nice locker room for the Buckeyes, and this locker room will have all the amenities and all the fancy things you need to make sure everyone is comfortable in that locker room. It will also be functional. Part of a locker room and the importance is that it has to be comfortable for student-athlete. A lot of things we do around here, the funding we get, is to improve things for the student-athlete."

The improvements follow in the wake of renovations that were made in 2005. The locker room will be opened up and will include 10,000 square feet of space as well as a nutrition area and plenty of entertainment options that will put Ohio State up against some of the nicest locker rooms in the country.

While there will be features used by the team as a whole, there will also be improvements on the individual level. Each locker will come with charging stations that will allow players to plug in their smart phones or tablets.

"I don't like to say keeping up with the Joneses, but you've got to pay attention to what everyone else is doing so you have the features in your locker room that are important to today," Patko said. "It relates to technology, it relates to how many gaming stations you might have in there and how many big-screen TVs. The sound systems in locker rooms are very important. These are all the elements that you have to pay attention to and see what other schools and other facilities are doing."

The practice field itself is also undergoing an operation. Approximately $250,000 worth of new lights have been installed at the indoor practice facility and the practice field is currently having new turf installed, just as Ohio Stadium received a new surface.

Unlike the renovations at Ohio Stadium, which have until the first home game to be finished, Ohio State is pegging a completion date of July 25 to make sure the WHAC contruction finishes up before fall camp.

Until then, players will be "roughing it" in a different wing of the practice facility.

"Sometimes you have to go through a little hardship," Patko said. "It's just a few months here. We have about 10,000 square feet we're renovating here, and it's going to take a little time to get the different parts and pieces put together."

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