The only building in the country on a college campus to get its name from a volleyball coach now resides at Ball State.
Saturday afternoon, hundreds of supporters, donors and former players gathered at the Dr. Don Shondell Practice Center, which is attached to the north end of Worthen Arena, for the dedication ceremony and ribbon cutting, signifying the building's opening.
"The improvements that were done this summer by adding a new practice facility ... are going to be really significant for our programs," men's volleyball head coach Joel Walton said. "When we bring recruits on campus, we'll be able to sit with them and their families, look out over the new practice gym, we'll be able to show them the team room, and it just presents itself as a very professional way for us to train our athletes."
The 19,000-square-foot practice center holds two NCAA-compliant basketball and volleyball courts that will be used by the men's and women's basketball and volleyball programs. The facility uses translucent fiberglass materials to let in natural sunlight without causing a glare that glass would cause.
Additionally, the first floor provides a study room with 27 tiered seats for meetings and watching film, and a satellite training room. Two meeting rooms that overlook the courts are located on the second floor.
"I really think it's a game-changer," Ball State Director of Athletics Beth Goetz said. "I think it demonstrates that volleyball and basketball are a priority for us and that we emphasize the necessity that [student-athletes] have a great training environment.
"... It's a beautiful space, and we're fortunate to name it after the legend Dr. Don Shondell, and it's going to mean a lot for those programs and for those coaches when they're out on the road talking to prospects about what it means to play basketball and volleyball at Ball State."
The $6.4 million facility was funded entirely by private gifts and donations, and it is named after Dr. Don Shondell, the founder of the men's volleyball program and a Ball State alumnus.
"We're really grateful for the generosity of so many that helped us make this a reality, and obviously the folks that spent time on campus putting this all together," Goetz said. "These things are always a labor of love, but we're fortunate to have such passionate fans and committed donors that wanted to provide this experience for our student-athletes."
Shondell started the program as a club team in 1959 before it became a varsity sport. His success eventually led to him becoming one of the most recognizable names in the volleyball world. He was inducted into the International Volleyball Hall of Fame in 1996 and is the only Cardinal to receive that honor.
"I know as an alumnus of the program, I feel a great sense of pride just having come from Ball State because when you put your name beside so many other players who have played at Ball State and coaches who have come from Ball State, it's just a recognizable name," Walton said. "It's so wonderful for me, having played for Don, having worked for Don as an assistant coach, to see him get the recognition that he truly deserves."
In his 34 seasons as the program’s coach, Shondell guided Ball State to 14 NCAA Tournament appearances and 20 Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (MIVA) regular season championships, amassing 769 wins to become the second-winningest coach in men’s volleyball history behind UCLA’s Al Scates. His win total is the highest in any sport by a Ball State coach.
Schondell also was co-founder of the MIVA, the conference’s first president and an eight-time MIVA Coach of the Year. He was inducted into the Ball State Athletic Hall of Fame in 1983 and received the Mikasa Sporting Goods Lifetime Achievement Award for Service in the Sport of Volleyball in 1988.
The second floor of the practice center displays plaques that recognize Dr. Shondell and the facility's donors. The project was part of the $20 million Cardinal Commitment campaign.