Through the last few decades, Southeastern Oklahoma State University had lagged behind most other Great American Conference schools in weight room facilities.
There was also a major need for volleyball facility improvements as well as a lack of any type of indoor facility in the event of bad weather.
That’s all ancient history with the upcoming opening of the beautifully refurbished Bloomer Sullivan Gymnasium, thanks to the generosity of 278 donors and other supporters in last year’s highly successful athletic-facility fundraiser.
"We are hopeful to get all graphics and branding up this week to finish things up," Assistant Athletic Director Seth Dutton said. "This has been an ongoing project really since January and it’s nice to see it come to fruition. Most people that have been around the last decade know that we were in desperate need of facility upgrades, and this is going to be an awesome sight to see. The best part will be when we get the student athletes in here, because I want to see their faces.
"This is something that’s been talked about for a long while and now its happening," he said. "Our student-athletes deserve a place like this to be able to workout and train, and for volleyball, a court to call their own is pretty special. There’s only maybe one other school in our region that has a facility dedicated to volleyball, so we are super excited for it."
The volleyball facility has brand new scoreboards as well as refurbishing of the former Bloomer Sullivan Gymnasium to eliminate the north side seating and make it much more of a cozy atmosphere.
On the north end of the building, the old Southeastern pool is no more and in its place is a brand new state-of-the-art weight room facility that’s loaded with 16 new weight racks as well as plenty of other equipment.
"Just to see how big the weight room is with double the space of our old one, with brand new, nice equipment is very exciting for Southeastern and the student-athletes," Dutton commented. "I’m an alum and I’m proud of it. It still doesn’t feel real.
"With the space and technology we are bringing into the weight room, it will be one of the best around. There are lots of bells and whistles going into it to track each student-athlete individually. It’s really going to transition from just lifting weights to perform into training to perform. I’m looking forward to see after student-athletes get on campus as freshmen and see how they progress throughout their careers.
"We have brand new everything - floor, lights and equipment where the old pool used to be; weight racks, multi-functional platforms and all accessory equipment. We’re going to be able to get a lot of different groups in here to get work done. It’s going to be awesome to see. We have an awesome strength-and-performance staff that will be able to completely transform our programs. We think you’ll be able to see the results on the field, floor, court or wherever it is over the next several years."
Adjacent to the weight room is a turf-surface indoor facility that will allow for some type of practice work on bad weather days, although it’s not quite big enough for full-scale practices.
Still, that’s better than past years when the only recourse for coaches on bad weather days would pretty much be walk-throughs in socks on the gymnasium floor or borrowing the high school’s facility.
"To be able to come in and get some work done when the weather is bad is huge for us," added Dutton. "That area can also be used for explosive runs and training for strength and conditioning. Being able to even do walk-throughs for the outdoor sports will be very beneficial. They can still play catch and stuff like that. It’s very, very beneficial to the student athletes and will completely transform the student athlete experience."
The athletic staff is excited to be able to show off the new facilities to a variety of people who helped make those possible once things begin to open up more.
"Without their support, partnership support, on-campus support and really the town support, this wouldn’t have been possible," Dutton said. "We have fantastic alums, fantastic donors and fantastic sponsors that helped make it happen. There’s no way we would have been able to do it without them. We’re excited to get this completed and, when it’s safe to come back to campus, open it up for people to come walk through and see. We want to show it off because it’s something that’s going to transform our university.
"We’ve tried to give our student-athletes the best environment to be successful on the field. It should completely change the game for our current students and we are really excited about seeing what kind of student we can go recruit. They can walk in and see this and say this is awesome. It’s very, very, very different and a game changer for us."