KOKOMO, Ind. — History will be made this week when the Indiana University Kokomo women’s volleyball team takes on conference foe University of Rio Grande on Friday – the first game to be played in the Student Activities and Events Center.
Greg Cooper, athletic director, said the months since the pandemic began have been challenging for student athletes, who lost competition and practice time.
“They’ve had a lot of obstacles to get to this point. However, all those hurdles have led to this day,” he said. “I am beyond excited to see our student athletes finally get to compete on campus. This is the 10th year of our athletic departments existence and this facility has been years in the making. I am pleased to finally see it used for one of its intended purposes.”
The first new building on campus since 2002, it’s also being used as classroom space during the week since the gym can accommodate physical distancing for larger classes, required because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The undefeated Cougars (3-0, 2-0 in the River States Conference) take on the 1-0 Red Storm at 7 p.m. For health and safety reasons, only two fans per athlete may attend, however, the game will be livestreamed at iukcougars.com.
Coach Heather Hayes is excited for all of her student athletes, but especially the seniors, who committed to IU Kokomo before the SAEC was approved. It takes the athletic program to the next level.
“Having a gym and events center on our campus does so much for the culture of our campus, and changes how we are able to recruit future students as well,” Hayes said. “We are grateful to all the donors, as well as the university, administration, and those who worked tirelessly to make this a reality. The SAEC definitely enhances the student and student-athlete experience at IU Kokomo.”
The SAEC includes a 10,918-square-foot, two-story gymnasium, expected to seat about 1,000 people for sporting events. With addition of carpet squares, curtains, and change in lighting, it can be transformed into event space that can seat up to 350 for special events and dinners.
The 24,000 square-foot facility includes locker rooms, restrooms, and athletic offices.
It’s also intended to serve students as a venue for meetings, campus events, and co-curricular activities, such as career fairs, research conferences, speakers, and concerts.
Groundbreaking was in December 2019, which also launched the campaign to raise $3 million of the $8.4 million cost of the building. For more information on how to make a tax-deductible gift to the SAEC, go to iuk.edu/eventscenter/.