This article is being brought to our fans courtesy of the Seminole Boosters’ Unconquered Magazine. The magazine is just one of the many benefits to our Seminole Boosters for their support of Florida State athletics.
Unconquered Magazine celebrates Seminole athletics and the indomitable spirit of its student-athletes who overcome adversity, the passion of its coaches and educators who help student reach beyond their limits, and the devotion of donors who redefine the boundaries of generosity by giving scholarships that change lives and who make donations that build first-class facilities. By sharing their stories of transformational experiences—on the athletic playing field, in the classroom and in life—Unconquered Magazine encourages the growth of responsible worlds citizenship and cross-cultural understanding. Each issue carries stories on what makes student-athletes great and how they were shaped by their experience at FSU, features on Seminole community sports legends and profiles of donors who make contributions.
By Bonnie Holub
We never get a second chance to make a first impression. This old adage usually refers to people meeting people, but it’s just as true when people first walk into a new environment.
Do you remember your first impression of the FSU campus? Were you touched by the beauty of the moss-draped oaks? The feelings of warmth and comfort from the old brick buildings? The expansiveness of Landis Green? Or maybe something else?
When potential students visit any university, the look and feel of the environment becomes part of the attraction. The feel of the campus can provide a sense of connectedness, belonging, excitement and endless possibilities.
The same is true when student-athletes make visits to FSU and see the Seminole athletic facilities for the first time. Starting this season, the men’s and women’s locker rooms and training room will be making a new first impression; one that has implications for turning first impressions into long lasting impacts for Seminole basketball. Extensive renovations are underway. Locker rooms are being re-designed. The look, feel and message of the facilities are being contemporized.
Renovations also include the preparation of infrastructure for future additions of student lounges, administrative areas and a new hospitality lounge for courtside fans.
“Student-athletes are always interested in the latest and greatest,” said Ivey Slaughter, junior forward on the women’s team, “and the Tucker Center is headed down that path. In my time at FSU, the Tucker Center has gone through a major upgrade and it has benefitted us greatly. It really feels like our true home. It’s exciting,”
Updates and upgrades
In 2013, Florida State University purchased the Donald L. Tucker Center and invested over $12 million in the building’s infrastructure. Upgrades include a new center-hung scoreboard, overall digital signage, new seats, new sound system and a refurbished concourse. These initial improvements were designed to significantly enhance the in-game experience for our Seminole fans.
The next step in renovations, an estimated $10 million investment which includes $5 million for locker rooms and a training room and $5 million for planned players’ lounges and auxiliary team areas, are designed to create exemplary spaces for our Seminole student-athletes. The entire area encompassing last season’s locker rooms, hallways and storage rooms are being razed to enable an awe inspiring transformation from merely functional space to a place that is functionally dynamic. Walls are coming down, both physically and metaphorically.
The expectations of a premier basketball program are reflected in many aspects, one of which is the look and feel of our locker rooms and players’ lounges. The new expansive space creates an inspiring sense of place for our student-athletes; a place where they can grow as individuals, as a team and as part of a premier basketball program. A place where they can take ownership and feel pride in being a Seminole.
FSU Athletic Director Stan Wilcox puts it this way, “The renovations will bring our facilities up to industry standards, but the impact of the renovations is much more than that; it’s bigger than just locker rooms. For one, it’s about the student athlete experience. Our student athletes deserve to practice and play in facilities that help them feel good about what they are doing and good about growing and getting better in their sport. The resources directed to our facilities reflect our commitment to success and make a statement about the kind of support student athletes can expect from us. In addition, the new facilities will help coaches in their recruitment efforts. Our coaches work to compete for ACC Championships every year. When coaches bring recruits in, the student athletes can see that basketball is important to the university. One of many ways we can support the work of our coaches is through facilities. The renovation of the locker rooms is just one piece of the total atmosphere.”
“Our administration and the Seminole Boosters have done a terrific job of working to upgrade and enhance our basketball facilities,” said Head Coach for Men’s Basketball Leonard Hamilton. “We are grateful for their belief in our program and their desire to see our program continue to help our student-athletes play in a first-class facility.”
The entire basketball area at the Tucker Center is being redesigned for the new locker rooms, training room and future student lounges. The previous men’s, women’s, visitor and officials’ locker rooms, including restrooms, total approximately 3,600 square feet, with each locker room encompassing approximately 900 square feet. The renovated men’s and women’s locker rooms are significantly roomier at approximately 1,300 square feet each. The new training room will be approximately 1,050 square feet. These areas are in construction now with a completion date planned in time for the upcoming season. The infrastructure for players lounges is being prepared and will be completed at a later date.
“Our new locker rooms and the new medical (training room) area at the Tucker Center are great additions to our arena. I know that every player on our team is thankful to our administration and the Seminole Boosters for everything they do for us,” said Terance Mann, freshman guard on the men’s team. “They help us in more ways than we know and this is another incredible example of the support for the basketball program.”
In addition to the larger renovations, an innovative enhancement to the basketball arena has been added. A used basketball court has been acquired to increase the practice space for players. The additional court was cut in half, allowing each half to be temporarily installed at either end of the main court during practice times. The expanded practice space helps alleviate practice scheduling between the men’s and women’s teams, and provides six additional baskets for use during practice.
Deputy Athletics Director Karl Hicks is serving as a project manager for the renovations. “The Atlantic Coast Conference is the premier college basketball league in the country with some of the best basketball facilities to date at ACC member schools. The goal of FSU basketball is to become a premier basketball program and the renovations are an important piece in building toward that future. The locker rooms and other improvements at the Tucker Center are among other supports to the total program.”
Donors make it possible
“Our Seminole Boosters help Florida State Athletics stay competitive in terms of facilities,” said Head Coach for Women’s Basketball Sue Semrau. “The additional upgrades coming to the Tucker Center are just another way we try to enhance the student-athlete experience. A big investment has been made into basketball at Florida State University, and we’re all proud to be a part of it.”
The Seminole Boosters are proud to have several donors who are providing substantial financial assistance to the renovations. Among the exceptional donors to the project are Seminole Boosters Board of Directors Vice Chairman Nylah Thompson and her husband H. L. Hartford. Their generous contribution is providing for the renovations to the women’s locker room.
“Our women players are amazing to watch,” said Thompson. “They play for the love of the game and for an education, as there are few opportunities in women’s basketball after college. It warms my heart. It’s hard to juggle athletics and academics and do well in both. It’s amazing to watch these young women excel on the court and in the classroom. I admire them. Coach Sue is amazing, too. She is a tremendous person and a great leader. We want to show our support to our team and FSU. I believe that improving our facilities helps us with recruiting, building better teams and being more competitive in the ACC. One recruit can make a difference on a team. Look at the success of Tennessee in the 1990s and Connecticut in the past several years. Florida State can do the same thing. We can build our program and bring the National Championship to Tallahassee.”
Senior Associate Athletics Director Vanessa Fuchs believes the comprehensive upgrades and renovations being done at the Tucker Center will positively impact FSU’s entire sports program. “Many schools can say they have a renown program in one or two sports. FSU has renown programs in all four ticketed sports; men’s basketball, women’s basketball, baseball and football, and all twenty of our individual sports programs are nationally competitive. We are excited about all the renovations and upgrades taking place at the Tucker Center. We are building state-of-the-art facilities that will rival the best facilities in the country. Not only will this have a direct impact on the student experience for our present athletes and recruits, the renovations at the Tucker Center will enhance the entire athletic program at FSU.”
Thank you to the following major gift contributors for making this project possible:
Nylah Thompson and HL Hartford
Bob and Pam Sasser
Jim and Linda Owens