At the groundbreaking ceremony for the Dr. Don Shondell Practice Center on Friday afternoon, one thing jumped out at the head coaches whose teams will use the facility — recruiting.
"Facilities across the country are getting better everywhere you go," men's basketball coach James Whitford said. "From a performance standpoint, it's huge for player development."
When completed, the facility will includes feature two courts for the men's and women's basketball and volleyball teams.
"We are in competition day in and day out with these others universities who have top-notch facilities," women's volleyball coach Kelli Miller said. "Now we're going to be right there with them."
Miller and Whitford were joined in the groundbreaking by Interim President Terry King, who announced his retirement earlier Friday, athletic director Mark Sandy, men's volleyball head coach Joel Walton, women's basketball head coach Brady Sallee, the Board of Trustees and several donors to the facility.
"This is an exciting time for Ball State athletics and an exciting time to be a basketball or volleyball student-athlete," Sandy said.
Whitford said the $6.4 million facility, which is funded entirely by private gifts and donations, will ideally make early morning and late night practices a thing of the past.
"It takes away any excuses, which even though they don't come out very often, I see them crack a smile every once in a while when I tell them that we can't get in the building," Whitford said. "This will give the players a chance to get better while they're here, it's a true commitment to their development as players."
The practice center will also include a training room, two team meeting rooms and a study room featuring tiered seating.
Don Shondell, the facility's namesake, was also at the event. Shondell graduated from Ball State in 1952 and founded the men's volleyball program. He has the most wins by a Ball State coach in any sport and is in the International Volleyball Hall of Fame. He also has 20 Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association titles and the second-most wins in NCAA men's volleyball history.
"Don and the Shondell family have made Muncie and Ball State the volleyball capital of the nation," Miller said. "If you hadn't heard that before, you should hear it now."
The facility is expected to be completed in late summer 2018 and is the final project of the Cardinal Commitment: Developing Champions campaign that was announced in April 2013.
And Whitford said the practice center will help him do just that — develop champions, both on and off the court.
"When I recruit players, I do everything in my power to help them become the players that they're capable of being," Whitford said. "This facility gives me the resources to help make those things happen."