Surrounded by exposed cinderblock and a cacophony of cords dangling from the ceiling, a disheveled O’Connor saw the last of its visitors on Monday night at the excitedly anticipated Wall Breaking Ceremony of the Heidt Family Champion Center.
Announced in 2018, O’Connor Sports Complex will be renovated into the Heidt Family Champion Center, a state-of-the-art facility that will house Olympic sports at Xavier.
A ceremony on Monday recognized the official transition and start of construction on the new champion center. At the ceremony, Athletic Director Greg Christopher remarked how this project is emblematic of the growth of Xavier’s athletic teams.
“This physical place is about making our programs better. We have got 11 sports that will have a proper home for the first time,” Christopher said. “At the end of the day, this physical place is only as good as the coaches and student athletes that occupy it.”
Among those 11 Olympic teams that will occupy the champion center are baseball, men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s swimming, cross country and track & field. Together, more than 200 student athletes will benefit from this facility. Several student athletes spoke at the Wall Breaking Ceremony including senior on the women’s swim team, Riece Drew.
“The champion center gives these programs and student athletes a sense of pride and inertia, a place to protect the X we have so graciously been given the opportunity to protect and compete for,” Drew said.
In the franker words of sophomore baseball player Jack Housinger, “I am juiced for this new champion center that is coming our way.” Housinger went on to explain that the Heidt Family Champion Center will help put Xavier on the map by creating programs that are among the best in the country. “(This facility will) really bring our program to a new height and make it one of the best in the Midwest and the country,” he said specifically of the baseball team.
Throughout these messages of excited anticipation for the new training facility, the one resounding message from all speakers was one of thanks for the generosity of donors and the continued need for sponsorship.
According to Christopher, the $14 million facility represents a major growth from old to new but would not have been possible without the necessary funds. Similar sentiments were echoed by head men’s soccer coach Andy Fleming.
Addressing the student-athletes present at the ceremony, he also talked about the centralization the center will provide. “You will be able to go do academic work, have a team meeting, watch video, see a trainer, lift weights, all without stretching yourself thin,” Fleming said. “It is going to transform and make this a more rewarding experience.”
The new facility will boast new locker rooms for coaches and players, a state-of-the-art strength and conditioning room, a multipurpose turf training space and plenty of offices and meeting rooms for coaches and support staff. Fleming further attributed this moment as one of the top 10 in the history of Xavier athletics. He reminded the student-athletes that this facility is a privilege that was earned, not a right.
“At times it was hard to lay bricks here, it was hard to come here every day where the bricks were laid poorly, and we did the best that we could, but the environment … ultimately impacted the final product we were trying to build. That is not the case anymore.” Christopher also commented that construction is progressing quicker than expected, hinting that the 2021 move-in date has the potential of being pushed forward.