Ball State moves forward with last two Cardinal Commitment projects
The final two pieces of the Cardinal Commitment: Developing Champions campaign, which was originally announced in April 2013, are set to be completed within the next year and a half.
Designs for both the Earl Yestingsmeier Golf Center and the Dr. Don Shondell Practice Center were presented and approved at the Board of Trustees meeting Feb. 3 and each project will begin with construction in the next couple of months.
The Earl Yestingsmeier Golf Center, set to be completed in late 2017, and the Dr. Don Shondell Practice Center, with a completion date for late summer 2018, are the final two pieces of the $20.6 million fundraising campaign that was first announced approximately four years ago.
Ballpark Complex — Includes new press boxes, dugouts and grandstands along with a team room, official's and coaches locker rooms, restrooms and concessions
Football Team Complex — New building for full-team meetings and other needs
Enhancement to existing facilities — Renovations to Briner Sports Complex
Worthen Arena — New video board, scoreboard, floor and audio system
“I was certainly fortunate to come here when the Cardinal Commitment campaign was concluding and almost all of the funds were in,” athletic director Mark Sandy said. “I’m glad to see this project go forward. These last two [facilities] will really help our teams.”
Sandy took over as Ball State’s director of Intercollegiate Athletics in February 2015, right after the financial goal for the campaign was met. Since then, the campaign has helped build new facilities for the football, baseball and softball teams and upgrade Worthen Arena.
When these two new facilities are completed, Sandy said it will set Ball State apart from the rest of the Mid-American Conference in terms of upgrades.
“In the MAC, we’ll have the newest practice facility for golf. That’s always nice to have something that’s cutting edge,” Sandy said. “And for the Shondell Center … you add that to Worthen Arena upgrades, all of the things that have happened in the past two years, you can argue that we’ll have the best practice and game venue for basketball, volleyball and gymnastics in the MAC for sure.”
Joan Todd // Rendering Provided
Earl Yestingsmeier Golf Center
The new home for the men’s and women’s golf teams is expected to be completed at some point between Thanksgiving Break and the end of the calendar year, and will be built along Bethel Avenue on the north side of campus, just southeast of Scheumann Stadium.
The $1.7 million, 6,400-square-foot facility will include two indoor hitting bays, a simulator and a 2,200-square-foot putting and chipping area for players to practice year-round. There will also be locker and restroom facilities for both teams, a meeting/office room, a team lounge and a club repair room.
“This is going to be a difference maker for us, just being able to have a place that we can call home,” head men’s golf coach Mike Fleck said. “We haven’t had any of those things in the past, so this will really be a winter home for Ball State golf.”
Many northern universities, including all but two in the MAC who have golf programs, have indoor training facilities. Head women’s golf coach Katherine Mowat said the new building will push the Cardinals ahead of their competitors.
“In some respects, it’s kind of keeping up with everyone else in the Midwest and this facility will be a premier facility,” Mowat said. “Most Midwest cities or northern schools have some type of facility and ours will be one of the best around.”
Fleck said the new facilities won't change the types of student-athletes the golf team targets, and Mowat said Ball State won't lose any potential golfers to programs with indoor golf centers.
Fleck played golf at Ball State for the facility's namesake, Earl Yestingsmeier, who died in January 2014. Yestingsmeier earned his bachelor’s degree from Ball State in 1955 and his master’s in 1958. After graduating, he worked as the university's sports information director and men’s golf coach for 36 years until his retirement in 1998.
“I wish that he was around to be a part of it, but obviously this is going to provide a legacy for a coach and all of the people that have been associated with the Ball State men’s golf team,” Fleck said. “[The facility] will give our guys every opportunity to be the best golfer they can be during their time here at Ball State.”
Joan Todd // Rendering Provided
Dr. Don Shondell Practice Center
The Worthen Arena expansion will be connected to the arena’s northwest side and will house two courts for the men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball teams.
Only one court was originally going to be built, but the coaches helped convince the administration to add a second court to the plans due to the amount of players who would be using the courts. The men's volleyball team, for example, has 20 players on its roster.
“We want to be able to practice with at least two nets set up,” head men's volleyball coach Joel Walton said. “If we were going to be using the practice facility as it was originally proposed, it was going to be difficult for our teams to accomplish the things that we could if we were in a space that had more room available for us.”
Head women’s volleyball coach Kelli Miller said it's also difficult scheduling practices with the current setup, where four teams share the court at Worthen, because the available hours can overlap with players' academic schedules. School, naturally, takes priority, so those players have to show up to practice late and/or leave early — if they can make it at all.
“It’s going to be a major help for us,” Miller said. “I really try to work our practices kind of around everyone being able to be there at the same time … having four teams that share that one facility, it gets very tough to have everybody to try and get an ideal practice times.”
Ideally, the 19,000-square-foot addition will make early morning and late night practices a thing of the past. The addition will also include a training room, two team meeting rooms and a study room featuring tiered seating.
The building is named after Don Shondell, a 1952 Ball State graduate and founder of the men’s volleyball program. The Hall of Fame Coach has the most career wins by a Ball State coach in any sport, 20 Midwest Intercollegiate Volleyball Association titles and the second-most wins in NCAA men’s volleyball history.
“The impact that Don Shondell has had on volleyball in Muncie, in the Midwest and really in the entire United States, it’s very significant,” Walton said. “To have a space on Ball State’s campus now that will be named after Don Shondell is certainly warranted and something as a Ball State men’s volleyball alum that I feel very proud of.”