SOURCE: Old Dominion University
Norfolk, VA – (October 22, 2020) – When Old Dominion University announced it would begin playing women's volleyball this school year, officials promised that not only would the Monarchs compete, they would be given the resources to win, including one of the finest facilities in Conference USA.
This week, after a three-month delay due to the pandemic, President John R. Broderick and Athletic Director Wood Selig joined enthusiastic volleyball coach Fred Chao during his team's practice to congratulate them on the new state-of-the-art ODU Women's Volleyball Center.
"This is going to be a really nice home for you," President Broderick told the team. "I had the opportunity a few times to go to some other women's volleyball facilities, and they don't compare to the facility we have, or what we have in the way of intimacy here."
The University invested $3.5 million to refurbish a former basketball practice facility at the Jim Jarrett Athletic Administration Building. The 822-seat venue was turned over to the University this week by Virtexco, the Norfolk-based contractor ODU hired to refurbish the gym.
The facility was designed primarily for volleyball but is a multipurpose venue that will host other events, including summer basketball camps, volleyball camps and University gatherings.
"Anyone who walks into this facility is going to know right away that ODU isn't just committed to playing volleyball, it is committed to playing at the highest level possible," Chao said. "This is a visible representation of the commitment that President Broderick and the University have made to volleyball. They want us to be competitive and they've been true to their word by providing us what we need to do that."
Chao was named coach in early 2019, and he recruited a team that worked out during the fall of 2019. The Monarchs were supposed to play this fall, but the pandemic forced ODU to postpone fall sports until January. ODU's opening game at home against George Mason, Chao's alma mater, is set for Jan. 22.
The gymnasium underwent a dramatic transformation, including new ODU signage, floors and a scoreboard. The relatively low ceiling and concrete walls that hold in noise will provide the Monarchs with a lively home court.
Offices were demolished to create the main entrance to the facility, including a large foyer with the University seal emblazoned on the floor. Large windows will give students, faculty and visitors passing by a view of the court.
David Robichaud, ODU's director of design and construction, said the foyer is one of the main "wow factors" that will make the center a pleasing and comfortable place for spectators.
Other features include a new visitor's locker room, a dressing room for refs and coaches' offices. A new locker room with an adjoining team room will allow players to watch film, hold team meetings or just hang out.
The locker room includes crafted wood lockers with a place to hang uniforms, overhead bins, a cabinet and drawer for shoes as well as polished metal nameplates that include each player's name and hometown.
The Jarrett Building also includes academic advising, a large athletic training room and weight-training facilities.
"Our players have everything they need in this building," Chao said.
Senior Women's Administrator and Volleyball Sports Administrator Carolyn Cooper Crutchfield oversees the volleyball program. A former Notre Dame volleyball player, Crutchfield worked for several years putting together plans for ODU's new team, which included helping to recruit Chao, and had major input into the new facility.
"Having played volleyball in college and having worked at numerous Division I universities, I can honestly say that our facility is among the best in the country," she said.
Design & Capital Construction Project Manager Chris Pewterbaugh, "did an extraordinary job ensuring architect DJG and Virtexco completed the project within budget despite all the challenges we had to overcome because of the COVID pandemic," Robichaud said.
Rick French, associate athletic director for operations, oversaw the project for the athletic department and coordinated support from ODU donors for upgraded office furniture and other amenities.
Even before work on the new facility began, the family of Ron Ripley, former rector of the ODU Board of Visitors, endowed a scholarship in the name of First Lady Kate Broderick and the President.
The center is located a stone's throw from the Quad residential halls, and officials anticipate volleyball will draw a lot of spectator support from students in the future.
President Broderick said he will be at that first game and offered advice to the players as to how to approach it.
"You are our first volleyball team," he said. "I hope at some point, that first time you really get playing here, that for just a second or two before it starts, you reflect on that.
"There are very few opportunities any of us have to be the first at doing something. You're going to be the first at doing something here just like many years ago the football team had the same opportunity.
"You will set the tradition. Hopefully, the ladies who follow you here will say there was a high standard set not only in terms of how you competed and how you did academically, but equally important, how you were human beings."
About Old Dominion University:
Old Dominion University is Virginia's entrepreneurial-minded doctoral research university with more than 24,000 students, rigorous academics, an energetic residential community and initiatives that contribute $2.6 billion annually to the Commonwealth's economy.