TUCSON? , Ariz. ?C? The University of Arizona womenˇ?s gymnastics team returned to the friendly confines of its on-campus practice facility, the Mary Roby Gymnastics Training Center, last week. The Wildcats had spent the fall training months at the Tumbleweeds Gymnastics Training Center, while renovations were completed to their home facility.?
The expansion is part of Campaign Arizona Phase II, a $20 million project which targets renovations and constructions of several athletic facilities on campus, including gymnastics, swimming and diving, volleyball and basketball facilities. Construction will continue on the exterior of the gymnastics center, as well as inside to complete a new restroom, locker room and training room.
The interior of the Wildcatsˇ? practice facility has expanded by over 3,000 square feet allowing for more training space at every event. A giant ˇ?Arizona Gymnasticsˇ± logo covers the eastern back wall, while brand new red carpeting covers the floor space between training stations.?
ˇ?This is an amazing facility,ˇ± head coach Bill Ryden said. ˇ?I am extremely thankful of the support that our athletic department has shown for our program. Itˇ?s hard to put into words the feelings that I have and that our student-athletes have about calling this practice gym ours.ˇ±?
ˇ?This truly is a state-of-the-art facility that is one of the finest in the nationˇ± Ryden added. ˇ?We already had a great gym before, but we have so much more space to work with now. It will allow us to train more effectively. We have plenty of room to go full-force on every event at once.ˇ±?
Among the upgrades are a lengthened vault runway, additional beam apparatusˇ?, expanded space for bars stations and matting, extra space for exercise bikes and new foam pits. In addition, a new restroom, training room and locker room will soon be completed.?
During their time away from their home gym, the Wildcats trained at Tumbleweeds over the summer and into the fall months. While the facility did allow for training, it was still located away from Arizonaˇ?s medical and training facilities located inside McKale Center, immediately adjacent to the Mary Roby Gymnastics Training Center.?
ˇ?It was definitely rough on the team, but the girls handled it extremely well,ˇ± Ryden said. ˇ?We may be a little bit behind, but we are about where we want to be. I am certainly thankful of Tumbleweeds for allowing us to use their gym during the summer and fall.ˇ±?
ˇ?Being back on campus, we are again right next door to our weight room and medical facilities,ˇ± Ryden added. ˇ?We can now fully begin our preparations for the upcoming season, which is quickly approaching.ˇ±?
With the 2008 season on the horizon, the Wildcats find themselves again amongst the nationˇ?s top teams. The Preseason Coachesˇ? Poll??has tabbed Arizona has the No. 12 team in the nation entering the season. The preseason ranking is the highest for the Wildcats since 2003 when they were picked to finish No. 10 following their NCAA Championship appearance in 2002, where they placed 11th. ?Last season, Arizona finished No. 13 in the country.
ˇ?It feels good to know that others have a great deal of respect for our program,ˇ± Ryden said of the ranking. ˇ?Any time you are ranked so highly in the preseason, itˇ?s a reflection of what you have accomplished, but also what you are expected to do for the upcoming season. We always have high expectations, but when others have them too, you have to come out and perform each week to meet those expectations.ˇ±?
Arizona will open the 2008 season at home on January 11 against N.C. State and Alaska. Season tickets are currently on sale through the McKale Ticket Office (520) 621-CATS or?online.