Oct. 6, 2006
IOWA CITY – The Iowa women’s soccer team has arguably the best playing field in the Big Ten, but having a locker room in the Recreation Building and practicing on the Recreation Fields wasn’t up to university standards. Jane Meyer, Senior Associate Director of Athletics, headed what was known as the West Campus Project, a $12 million project that brought three sports facilities up-to-date.
Part of the project was to give the soccer program a practice facility which is perfect for day-to-day training. The facility is a fence enclosed. It’s a full field with nets surrounding each end. The field is equipped with a professional irrigation and drainage system. The other new addition for the program is the team locker room which is within walking distance of the new Tennis Recreation Building.
First year Hawkeye Head Coach, Ron Rainey has had nothing but positive things to say about the facilities. Rainey came from Ball State where he had a great playing and practice field, along with a locker and training room next to the fields. The new facilities played a huge role in him coming to Iowa.
“You’ve got a first class game field, a first class practice field, you’re close to the locker room and team room,” said Rainey. “All those things make it a facility comparable to any in the Big Ten.”
Not only was the project about bringing programs up-to-date, but also about efficiency. With all the program’s facilities in close proximity to one another, it will make things more efficient for student-athletes. They are now able to receive their training needs before practice and games and then walk back to the facility.
For the players, it’s a good thing to also know that the surface they’re going out to play on is perfect. In the past, the team practiced on an uphill field. Now the team has a practice field that is possibly better than some game field surfaces in the Big Ten. Not only does the team have a new practice field, but since the program does not have to share its game field, they have the opportunity to practice on it as well.
The game field, though, is what Rainey loves the most about the facilities.
“I really think the amount of work that was put into the game field to make it great is something, “Rainey said. “The surface recovers quickly, drains well with rain and the lights create a great atmosphere. I think those things are my favorites.”
With top-tier facilities, the next step is defending the home field advantage. Rainey wants to make it difficult for teams to come into Iowa and play. If the team does that, he expects more fans will come out and provide a better atmosphere. To do this, he needs a good product on the field.
“I really think the amount of work that was put into the game field to make it great is something. The surface recovers quickly, drains well with rain and the lights create a great atmosphere. I think those things are my favorites.”
Head Coach Ron Rainey
The facilities being built was phase one. Then it was Rainey becoming the new head coach. It signaled the beginning of the soccer program turn around. The two investments are expected to have a dramatic effect on the program’s future, not only because of what the team has to work with on a day-to-day basis, but also in the student-athletes that are being recruited.
“You don’t have to hide anything when recruits come to campus,” said Rainey. “The very first thing we do after showing them the academic side of campus, the layout of the school, the Gerdin Learning Center is to go over to our field. There’s a ton of pride that we have in the facility and where we compete. Nobody comes away, after seeing our facilities, without knowing the commitment that’s put into women’s soccer here at Iowa.”
The commitment is being shown on a consistent basis behind the scenes. The athletic department is constantly asking the coaches for their feedback
First year Athletic Director, Gary Barta, wants all 24 of the department’s to do well. From the standpoint of an Olympic sport, it’s exciting to see how football, basketball, and wrestling generate a lot of revenue for the department because it’s able to touch all 24.
The Iowa soccer program has been given what it needs to have success in the future.
Josh Mitchell, Iowa Sports Information