Florida’s new soccer facility opened this week to rave reviews, and why not?
Between the cryotherapy rooms, the sauna, the barbershop, the basketball court, the virtual reality room, the motion-lit hallways, the HydroWorx pools, the game room, the float tank, the basketball court, and the plunge pool, there is much for a young man to enjoy. to keep.
Still, something doesn’t smell quite right.
The epicenter of the dressing room spot. That’s where players can take control of their own little domains and do what jocks have been doing for ages.
Not necessarily the players themselves, but their environment. Despite the best efforts of scientists, engineers and Febreze, locker rooms cannot escape what they are.
That’s what makes this one so weird.
“It doesn’t smell like a locker room,” said Chip Howard.
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As UF’s executive associate director of athletics for internal affairs, Howard is the man who largely oversaw the highly anticipated project. The red brick building is officially called the James W. “Bill” Heavener Football Training Center, although it could be nicknamed “The 7th Heavener”.
Football forces have been trying to outdo each other for the past decade, ever since Nike founder Phil Knight built a Ritz-Carlton to lure recruits to Oregon. Critics are always shocked by the excess, and it is unpleasant to see student athletes floating in lazy rivers and getting foot massages while playing blackjack in the player-only casino.
The Gators now have their bells and whistles, but they emphasize the overall functionality that $85 million bought.
“Time,” said Billy Napier. “No. 1 for me is time.”
All 43,928 aspects of the coach program are now efficiently housed under one roof. And at the heart of it all is the dressing room.
“I might lie back in my locker and close my eyes about 30 minutes before I practice,” said Trent Whittemore.
As far as I know, he may never come out. The public/media are not into it yet, but sources and infrared satellite images reveal a locker setup of an advanced football civilization.
The floor is a rich blue carpet and the ceiling is bathed in an orange glow. In between are white lockers with black chairs, though that hardly begins to describe football feng shui.
The seats are like First Class seats on an airplane – thickly padded monsters that recline in beds.
“Zero gravity chairs,” Howard said.
They are so comfortable you can imagine the 400-pound Desmond Watson floating blissfully in his pod. That’s a better name for the assemblies, since they came in two-locker pods from Longhorn Lockers Co. in Venus, Texas.
There is a console that separates the seats. On the side, players have a table area that automatically charges their phones.
There is a bench area for storage, surmounted by a cupboard with a helmet corner above. Above it is a small billboard with the player’s name and photo laid out in light.
Florida likes to call it one of the four original Jordan brand schools, so there’s a blue Jumpman logo on the doors that act as handles.
Each locker is outfitted with Normatec air-compression boots that, according to the website, “use biomimicry to replicate the legs’ natural muscle pumps and one-way valves.”
Locker room so sophisticated it doesn’t smell like a locker room
It’s safe to say that Bear Bryant wasn’t concerned about biomimicry when he ordered lockers from the S&H Green Stamps catalog. Back then, if three-a-day in 110 degrees didn’t kill you, the resulting aroma might.
You bring dirty socks, sweaters, pants, jockstraps, helmets, pads, sports tape, towels and other equipment. Bathe them in sweat. Add steam and humidity from nearby showers. Throw in a touch of bengay and clogged toilet. Let it ferment, and voila!
Changing room water.
Not in 7th heaven. The compartments for cleats, pads and helmets have drying fans that suck the stench through ducts into the atmosphere, where it is likely to destroy the ozone and lead to a global climate catastrophe.
But hey, it’s great to be a Florida Gator.
“The ventilation with our pads,” Trey Dean said. “It really is state of the art.”
It’s certainly not like the old days, when players put their dirty laundry in fishnet bags and hung them in their lockers. Some used the bags as pillows when they stretched out on a bench for a nap. That alone could explain Danny Wuerffel’s premature baldness.
What would the old guard think of the new place? They are welcome to find out.
Along with 135 Longhorn-produced lockers, UF installed a dozen oak lockers for former players to use when training. You’ll excuse them if they walk by to try out a zero gravity chair or a bit of biomimicry.
And in case you’re wondering, each locker costs about $15,000.
Is it worth it?
Players and coaches and recruiting gurus would say yes. Critics would say that schools need to get their priorities straight.
When it comes to the Heavener Center, one thing will be as obvious as the nose on your face.
No one – not even Georgia fans – can ever say the place stinks.
— David Whitley is the sports columnist for The Gainesville Sun. Contact him at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @DavidEWhitley.