Buffs Already Reaping Benefits Of Indoor Facility
BOULDER — It's been open for barely a month, but the University of Colorado's Champions Center indoor practice facility (IPF) is already having a significant impact on CU's teams.
Athletes from almost every sport are taking advantage of the spacious, climate-controlled facility that boasts a full football field, a six-lane, 300-meter track and plenty of room for conditioning, agility drills and individual workouts.
The football team is already using it on a daily basis in the mornings for the offseason conditioning program; the track team can now actually conduct indoor workout sessions for distance runners and sprinters; and athletes from other sports such as soccer and lacrosse are also making use of the facility for conditioning workouts, practices and individual skill sessions.
The IPF was designed for efficiency. It is connected directly to the main Champions Center weight room. Football players can walk directly from their locker room, through the weight room and into the IPF.
Olympic sports athletes now have locker facilities in renovated Dal Ward. They can now walk out of their locker rooms into the Champions Center tunnel and through the weight room into the IPF.
"It's been absolutely amazing," said cross country and track athlete Lucy May. "The turns are quite a bit wider than we're used to, it's fast, sheltered and we get to go in there when the weather's bad. We also have brand new locker rooms in Dal Ward, and that makes it even better."
Although the track team has had the use of Balch Fieldhouse in years past, the indoor track there was not conducive to training, particularly for middle-distance and distance runners. The tight turns (50 meters) on the 200-meter track put too much stress on runners' legs.
"I've seen some of my lower leg injury type things go away already just by training on the new track," May said. "It's way better for distance runners."
It's also added a huge measure of consistency for the track athletes' workouts for the indoor track season. Prior to the opening of the IPF, the Buffs still did much of their training at Potts Field outdoor track — if the weather allowed it.
"The benefit for us is that we now have a usable indoor track," said associate head coach Heather Burroughs. "We had a track in the past but we couldn't use it. Last week when it was really windy, we would have had to either cancel the track session or alter it if we only had Potts.
"Instead, we were able to come in here exactly as we hoped. Tomorrow, it's going to snow. It's unlikely that Potts would be available at any time tomorrow, so we'll be in here and our training schedule will be consistent."
That's been a huge boon, particularly with the MPSF Indoor Championships coming up this week and the NCAA Indoor Championships in March.
"I can tell you that we would have had to change the last two weeks of our training if we didn't have this facility," Burroughs said. "It has no doubt had a positive impact for us already."
The IPF is also already having a positive effect on the football team's offseason conditioning, and will be a major boon when spring ball begins March 2.
Prior to the IPF opening, players dressed in their locker room, walked down the hill to the practice bubble or outdoor fields for conditioning workouts, then walked back up to finish weight training in the old weight room.
"Since it opened, added efficiency has been one of the greatest impacts, if not the greatest impact," said Lucius Jordan, assistant director of sports performance. "The simple efficiency of not having to spend 15 minutes going up and down the hill in transition means we're able to get a little more in the actual workouts. That helps us in getting better recovery at the end of workouts. We can start a little earlier, get more work in and still make sure guys are getting to class on time. It's made a tremendous difference already."
Another benefit, Jordan said, is that the IPF is much more conducive to volunteer workouts. More players, he said, are finding time to come in and work on individual skills on their own, whether it be quarterbacks throwing to receivers, agility drills or just a little more conditioning.
"Since it's opened, we've had a lot more guys come back in the afternoon just to run their own drills by themselves, not with their coach or with us," Jordan said. "It's guys coming back in the afternoon and saying, 'Hey, the locker room is right there. We don't have to go down the hill.' It's 20 more minutes spent inside the indoor facility preparing and being able to work on their own individual skills. The voluntary workout participation is up dramatically."
Players are obviously thrilled with their new digs.
"Having everything in such a central location is awesome," offensive lineman Sam Kronshage said. "It's a lot more efficient and we get a lot more done in the same period of time. On Saturdays, there are always a bunch of guys here for voluntary stuff. There's no doubt it's going to improve performance."
For players such as quarterback Steven Montez, it means an easily accessible place for him to throw in the afternoons and on weekends.
"It's all the difference in the world," Montez said. "When you have something new, you're so excited and ready to use it, it makes working out that much easier and that much more fun. We can pop in there in the afternoon and get a half hour of work in. It's efficient and it makes you want to do more. It's an awesome facility."
Even former athletes are appreciative of the new facility. Four-time NCAA champion and two-time Olympian Jenny Simpson, now a volunteer coach for the track program, called the facility "overdue."
"It's really exciting to see the track team's hard work really rewarded with unbelievable facilities," Simpson said. "I'm really excited, not only just for the track, but also some extra amenities for the athletes, like nice locker rooms. Having been an athlete here myself, I feel like it's long overdue. It's fun to see them have some of those extra facilities."