Football players on the University of New Mexico football team range in ages from 17 to 23 years old. When you get to that age, it's hard to make someone in college act as giddy as a little kid getting to see a new present for the first time. So, when UNM head football coach Bob Davie let his team have a brand new present in the form of a refurbished, brand new, $800,000 Athletic Performance Center for Football…well…there was a whole lot of giddy going on.
The New Mexico football team finally got the chance to see their shining new Athletic Performance Center for Football on Saturday morning, and the team was stunned at what they saw. Along with brand new flooring and branding with the Lobo shield everywhere, racks and racks of dumbbells, machines, and every other piece of strength equipment you can imagine was there at their disposal (including a 40-yard turf sprinting area). Every single thing brand new, gleaming and sparkling under all-new lighting as well.
The renovation started the week before the team left for Ruidoso for fall camp, and while the players were still in Albuquerque, the windows to the Athletic Performance Center for Football were barricaded, and no players were allowed anywhere near the area. The team had its old weight equipment were moved out into the stadium, where a make-shift lifting area was constructed for the team to work out.
That slight inconvenience is all worth it now, especially to a senior like LaMar Bratton. "There was so much energy going through my body as soon as I walked through the door. When I came here as a freshman, I could never imagine a weight room like it is now."
"We ask these players to give us everything they have," said head coach Bob Davie. "And in return what we talk about is giving them the very best we can possibly provide for them."
Ever since Davie has been at the helm of UNM football, he has been telling anyone who will listen that the Lobos have great facilities that rival most other schools. Despite that feeling, he has never just sat back on his laurels. The new Athletic Performance Center for Football is the third major facility upgrade for his program in his three years, joining the FieldTurf installation in 2012 and the Mountain West's largest scoreboard in 2013.
"We have great facilities here, and each year we have been able to add to them," said Davie. "It shows a great commitment to this program, to these players, and for this school."
Coach Davie has also continually said that one of his most important hires was getting Ben Hilgart, formerly of Arizona State, to serve as Head Athletic Performance Coach for the program. With Hilgart, UNM has indeed gotten bigger, stronger and faster, and now he will be able to take that to another level with the equipment and facility he has at his disposal.
"This (facility) is a vision that Coach Davie has had since the day we came here," said Hilgart, "and to be able to see it finally come to fruition, and see our guys' reaction when they came in the room. I think we are all excited and ready to get to work."
And even those younger pups know the importance of adding a facility like this to the program. Said 2013 Freshman All-America Dakota Cox, one of the 2014 team captains, "It just shows how much Coach Davie and the staff, everyone around here, how much they care about us, and how much they want us to achieve greatness. This is one of the nicest weight rooms I've seen around the country."
With UNM practicing in the mornings in 2014, the team really has the ability to maximize time, and to get the day started in a positive way. Now, the squad can eat breakfast, attend meetings, go to practice, lift and then have lunch, all in the Tow Diehm Football Facility.
"With the ability to feed the kids more than one meal, for us it really is one-stop shopping because we can do everything here before they head to class, and they can take care of a lot of things at one time," said Davie.
With all that, Davie knows in the end it is about the players. "It's a great day. I think just the expression and the emotion of our players probably says it the best just how important it is for us to get into this facility."