Apparently, the departed members of the Kansas University baseball program would like it known that, without their contributions over the course of the past few years, the existence of the recently completed Kent McCarthy Family Clubhouse would not, in fact, be possible.
“I’ve talked to some of the older guys,” said a smiling Nick Faunce, who’ll start in center field for the Jayhawks this season, “and they tell us to congratulate them for making this (happen).
“So, ‘Thanks, older men.’”
Since its completion just less than a month ago, the team’s two-story facility has become a much-anticipated second home for many of the team’s players, who, on an average day, can be found wandering the posh halls between classes or practice.
In keeping up with the Joneses’ of the university’s other programs — such as the completion of the Anderson Family Football Complex last summer and the current renovations being carried out at Allen Fieldhouse — the baseball program went all out in its renovation, resulting in a facility that, in addition to a stunning locker room locker room packed with various amenities, also features a plush players’ lounge overlooking the Jayhawks’ home field at Hoglund Ballpark.
“It just has that comfortability factor,” said freshman catcher/outfielder Zac Elgie. “People show up earlier and get ready sooner, and then just sort of hang around. It’s not necessarily all about coming here and getting ready. Guys hang around and just kind of chill out with each other.”
The program didn’t trade style for functionality, however. Players would be hard-pressed to find a need that cannot be met within the confines of the new complex. Among the various rooms in the clubhouse are: the Cardio Room, the Equipment Room, the Academic Room, the Sports Medicine Room, the Laundry Room, the Gary and Sue Padgett Coaches’ Locker Room, and a players lounge equipped with a flat-screen TV, XBox 360, refrigerator and plenty of comfortable chairs.
The complex, paid for in full by alumni donations, also represents a very welcome change from the team’s old facility, which had grown outdated in recent years, and, faced with the pressures of a 35-man roster, proved short on space.
“It’s going to help out on so many levels in terms of just the overall happiness of the players, the recruiting that we’re going to be able to do in the future, and just the overall feel of the (place),” said senior closer Paul Smyth. “It makes you feel a lot more at home when you’re able to walk right out of your locker room onto the field, instead of crossing through the fieldhouse and everything like that.”
While player input on the facility was limited, team members were confident their coach had the architectural wherewithal to provide them with a proper digs.
“Coach (Ritch) Price has a good head on his shoulders,” said junior pitcher Shaeffer Hall. “He knows what his players like.”
And while players were quick to name the XBox and flat-screen TVs as their clubhouse perk of choice during a tour of the facility Thursday afternoon, their coach took a slightly different view.
“Being head baseball coach, my greatest thrill of the project is that it’s paid for,” Price joked. “I’m not still out there knocking on doors, trying to pay the last part of the debt.”