For the first time in the 117-year history of Ohio football, the Bobcats now have an indoor practice facility with the construction of the Walter Fieldhouse.
Although the indoor playing surface will not be open to regular students until the fall, all other varsity sports were granted access to practice inside this past spring. The Bobcats practiced inside for 12 of their 14 practices.
And with the opportunities to practice inside, the Bobcats had more opportunities to prepare for summer camps before the team begins its season at the end of August. Especially, because there were times when Peden Stadium was still snow-covered while the Bobcats were practicing on the indoor artificial turf.
Building the $13 million facility was not a priority when coach Frank Solich came to Athens nine seasons ago, but it’s become a reality for the Bobcat football team.
It not only helped provide faster-paced practices, but allowed quarterbacks, wide receivers and defensive backs an advantage compared to practicing outdoors.
“The quarterbacks show up to spring and aren’t able to throw the ball as well because they just haven’t had the chance to because of weather, something that always put us behind teams with an indoor facility,” Solich said after the team’s first practice to begin the spring season.
WOUB’s Bobcat Showcase football reporter Lucas Widman agreed with Solich and said the potential starting quarterbacks benefited the most because it’s easy to throw inside. Widman was in attendance as a reporter at all of Ohio’s spring practices.
“It was great for them to get the full practices in (this spring),” Widman said. “When they come back they’re going to be ready to play and you’ll be able to see that in the first game — they’ll be a lot well-seasoned compared to previous years.”
Although the team will not reconvene until the summer, the Walter Fieldhouse will be an asset for Ohio year-round. Especially if the Bobcats make a sixth consecutive bowl game in December or January and want to avoid the cold Ohio temperatures to maintain their peak performances.