Logan Wilson has had a first-hand look at the evolution of University of Wyoming athletics.
Wilson, a redshirt junior linebacker for the Cowboys, and the rest of UW athletes that have been on campus since 2016 have witnessed athletic facilities change from being alright to now being admired.
And the crown jewel of UW athletics’ rebirth was unveiled to the public Saturday.
UW officially opened the doors to The Mick and Susie McMurry High Altitude Performance Center for anyone who wanted a close-up look at the state-of-the-art facility.
UW Foundation President Ben Blalock, UW Athletics Director Tom Burman, UW President Laurie Nichols, Wyoming Governor Matt Mead, Susie McMurry, April Brimmer Kunz and UW football coach Craig Bohl all spoke on the process that led to the facility being built and the impact it will bring UW for decades to come.
“It’s been surreal to see this facility start from the ground up and to get a chance to be able to be part of it,” said Wilson, a Casper Natrona product. “Not many colleges in the country can say they have a facility like we have. Having a training table benefits all athletes.
“Whether it’s making healthy food choices to benefit their body or even just being able to get something at all times of the day, that alone is a huge benefit.”
The facility — which includes 71,000 square feet of new space along with 47,000 feet of the renovated Rochelle Athletics Center — gives the total facility more than 118,000 square feet.
It includes a strength and conditioning center, sports medicine center, new football locker rooms and a player’s lounge, a nutrition center that can seat 145 individuals and is available to all UW athletes, recovery pools and even a barber shop.
Nutrition has become a buzz word in college athletics and long gone are the days where athletes would settle for a bowl of cereal or fast food following a day of classes, training or studying.
UW now offers a training table with prepared food available as well as a fueling station where athletes can grab nutritious food on the go if needed.
“When you talked to your players, you find out that sometimes when they go home at the end of the day and they don’t feel like cooking, maybe they grab something quick and probably not healthy,” Cowgirls basketball coach Joe Legerski said. “Having the training table gives them the meal and nutrition they need day after day.
“It’s a game changer.”
That was a familiar phrase all day when talking about the HAPC.
From now having weight rooms that can accommodate more than two teams to food and a learning center, athletes don’t have to travel from spot to spot across campus to get what they need accomplished.
“Having one place where you can park and basically stay there all day and get what you need to get done is a big advantage,” Wilson said.
The idea for the facility was conceived several years ago and came to fruition through donors and the state of Wyoming. The state allocated $20 million of the $44 million price tag from state funds while UW raised the rest.
“There’s a sign on the wall that Mick always believed in, ‘One Wyoming,’ and this truly is an indication of that,” Bohl said. “You had all different groups, whether it was Gov. Mead, the Senate, the House, the foundation, athletic supporters.
“All people came together with this. It will have a big impact for all of our student athletes. All of our fans will take a great deal of pride with this.”
UW has seen marked improvements in its athletic facilities in the last 10 years, including the Indoor Practice Facility, renovations to the Arena-Auditorium and Wildcatter Suites at War Memorial Stadium.
Burman said two projects remain on the front burner: a new pool for the swimming and diving teams and improving Memorial Stadium’s west side.
“Our swimming and diving teams compete in a facility that is nowhere near Division I standards,” Burman said. “And our fans have the unfortunate experience on the west side of the (football) stadium with inadequate restrooms, concessions and seating.
“We got some work to do, but we’re very excited about what we’ve accomplished. We’ll take the weekend off and then start figuring out what’s next.”
For now, however, it’s a chance for everyone involved and the UW fan base to take a look around and soak in what is now one of the top athletic facilities in the country.
“My mom came down a couple days ago for work and I got a chance to show her the facility and she was just blown away and I’ve been telling her about it since it started coming up,” Wilson said. “The people who come through and take a look will be blown away by it, too.”
As will future UW athletes and their families.
“Our tour when having a recruit on campus starts with our locker room, then our film room, then the arena and then we come over the High Altitude Performance Center,” Legerski said. “It ties everything together for the family to see the commitment that’s made by the university and this state.
“It really sets us apart.”