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Filed under Sports

Women’s hoops gets study area

Molly Tumanic

Zorn Arena just became that much more appealing for the women’s basketball team.

With more than $18,000 donated from alumni and friends of UW-Eau Claire, the team’s locker room underwent a major renovation.

“The basic purpose of the renovation was to help with the recruiting process and give our players a place they can feel at home,” head coach Tonja Englund said. “It really is a special source of pride for us.”

The project included repainting two locker rooms, replacing the 30-year-old lockers and chairs, installing new carpet and creating a team conference and study area.

The women did a lot of the work by themselves, Englund said.

She added that much of it could not have happened without the help of many people outside the program.

“We couldn’t have done this without all the people that helped us out,” Englund said. “We are so grateful to all the people who pitched in.”

Eighteen charter contributors were recognized in the project.

Each contributor to the fund-raising effort will have his or her name placed on one of the newly installed lockers, said Bill Rowlett, Eau Claire’s development officer for athletics.

“Tonja and her staff took the initiative to renovate the rooms,” Rowlett said. “They received generous support from their backers.”

Besides enhancing the ability to recruit possible players, Englund said the renovations make the room feel more like a home for her players.

“We now have a study area where the girls can go between classes and get some work done,” she said. “It is a special place where team chemistry can grow.”

Along with the fund raising for the women’s basketball team, the men’s basketball and football teams are looking at similar renovation projects.

The men’s basketball project will take place in their locker room in Zorn Arena while the football team’s will be in Olson Gym, next to McPhee.

“We want to improve room facilities and make it more attractive for recruits,” head football coach Todd Hoffner said. “This will help us recruit the best and brightest student athletes.”

Fund-raising projects are ongoing for both of the men’s teams. Twenty charter contributors are sought for the basketball renovations and 40 for the football, Rowlett said. He added that the football team has been fund raising for more than two years but still needs to raise more money.

The men’s basketball team is about halfway there, Rowlett said.

Englund looks at the renovations as something that will help recruits make the choice of becoming a Blugold.

“This will help us because we are not just looking at athletes who are choosing between Eau Claire and other conference schools,” Englund said, “but players who are looking at Div. I and II schools also.”

Englund and her staff are happy with how the project was completed and with the support they received from people around the community.

“We are so pleased with how it turned out,” she said. “We have so many people to thank.”

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